Prospero, a type of sorcerer, lives on an island with his daughter Miranda. He orchestrates a storm – “the tempest” – to cause a shipwreck. Amongst the passengers on the ship are Prospero’s sister and the King and Prince of Naples. As the sister, Antonia, has done Prospero wrong in the past, he stages a scene he is fully in control of, to seek revenge and to marry off Miranda with Prince Ferdinand. Supernatural spirit Ariel helps him by bewitching people this pleasing and for his plans to succeed.
Prospero closes the play by saying “…or else my project fails, which was to please”. That is sums up what this play is: entertaining. Not to criticise the Bard, but The Tempest isn’t he most logical play and at times can be downright confusing. Still, it never fails to be incredibly fun. The longer the play went on, the more the actors of Thick as Thieves’ acting troupe loosened up and with little side jokes and remarks at the audience noticeably enjoyed themselves.
Ariel Harrison as Ariel (yes, really) stands out as mischievous spirit, pulling strings for her master Prospero and relishing in her magical pranks. The way she is flitting across the theatre, decorated to evoke images of a jungle, climbing up and down wooden planks and filling the space with her enchanting sing-song makes belief she is one with her surroundings and truly a spiritual being. Nicky Diss and Marcus Houden rise above themselves in the Shakespearean-Fool scenes when they play drunkards Stephano and Trinculo. Thomas Judd excels as awkward flirt Ferdinand. As – naturally for a Pub theatre – there are some room and props restraints and there are only four actors, it is a bit tough at the start to follow who has shipwrecked at all, when, and who with exactly. However, the actors make the most out of it and for the finale including all characters they come up with a charming idea how to fill the gaps.
The Tempest as performed by Thick as Thieves at the Hope Theatre definitely goes recommended!
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent