Follow the sound of swifts into the depths of
Performed in the round, the action enfolds and envelops the audience, actors ghost through, trailing quips and feathers, and trees and parakeets join in on the action. Shipwrecked and desolate, Joshua Wedge makes an adorably dopy lover for a sweetly gawky Miranda (played with stunning charm by Hannah Haseloff). Martha Gray, standing in as Antonia (she is co-director with Michael Corbridge) channelled a very topical Tory Leadership vibe, complete with terrifying handbag and steely ambition, ably assisted by Imran Mirza as Sebastian, deliciously delighting in his villainy. Niall McDaid is wilful and willowy as Ariel, skipping quickly through the action as he tries to break out and be free. At the centre of all, grounding the play, Fran Godsall’s Prospero storms, but gently, with compassion; her dusty grandeur and honest grievances light up the summer twilight. Underlining the comedy with a sinister edge, Mark Fiddaman is a spitting and spiteful Caliban, full of grand plans and terrifying grievances. Annesh Ramklown and David Lemberg back him up, trip him up and finally dress him up, as the endlessly distractible, absolutely absurd co-conspirators Trinculo and Stephano. Attendant spirits are always an important presence in The Tempest, and Teresa Heapy and Ellen Publicover mix up cunning and imperious as they veer between mischievous sprites and magnificent goddesses. Alex Brinkman-Young (Francisca) and Jeff Bowersox (Gonzalo) make a very charming brace of lords, investigating the mysteries of the island, quick to conciliate and very, very firmly champion peace to all.
The dusty glamour of this lost island in the parks lingers, delightfully; but the end is a rush for the gates as the parks close.