Director Bill Scott has cleverly adapted and abridged the original so the whole thing can be performed by just six actors. The touring set is made up of hat boxes of various shapes and sizes, able to double as trees, caves, hills and basic furniture, and at the top of them all dwells Ariel, often outlined against the sky, in a wonderfully inventive and acrobatic performance by Catherine Lake.
She’s the only one NOT required to play multiple roles, probably because of the costume and ethereal makeup – following the Angel Exit Moonfleet pattern.
This really is Shakespeare for all ages, generally recognised as one of the best entry plays, and underlined by wit, cheek, broad humour, lots of magic and a feral sexiness that shouldn’t offend anyone. On the night we saw it, at Frome’s ECOS Amphitheatre, the audience age ranged from about eight to about 80, and all were equally enraptured.
The show doesn’t miss much, but allows a bit of updating and ad libbing to the delight of the watchers – picnickers, watch your Pringles!
You get the full story, as Prospero tells his daughter Miranda how he is really the Duke of Milan and was usurped by a duplicitous brother and a scheming neighbouring King, and how he has created a storm to bring all of them to the island, all with the aid of puppets in full fig.
The drunken butler does his stuff with the unfortunate Caliban (here looking a bit like a large and bedraggled cat, but then I never knew what a Mooncalf should look like!).
The performances, by Miracle regulars Ben Dyson and Ciaran Clarke, with Simon Norbury, Hannah Stephens and Lisa Howard, are full of comic delights and brilliant contrasts.
The highlights are Miranda’s seduction of Ferdinand, Caliban’s plaintive singing, Stephano’s drunken antics and Ariel’s marvellous shapes against the sky, as well as the landing of the mariners on the island.
There are four more performances in Dorset this summer, all of them promoted by Artsreach.
Go and see this lovely show at Springhead at Fontmell Magna on Thursday 31st July, Melbury Osmond on 1st August, Sandford Orcas on 2nd or in the very appropriate setting of Kimmeridge Bay on Sunday 3rd August. Visit the Artsreach website for full details or the Miracle site for information about other performances around the south and west.