Principal Theatre Company’s winning run of outdoor summer Shakespeare continues with a spellbinding version of ‘The Tempest’. Paul Gladwin has skilfully navigated the play’s darker undercurrents to produce a child-friendly, laughter-filled show that stays on the right side of pantomime.
Rupert Wickham is a stern but not unbending Prospero; raging with thunderous power at his enemies while contending with the histrionics of his love-struck teenage daughter. This fractious family unit – including a puppyish Samuel Clayton as Miranda’s princely suitor, Ferdinand – is touchingly familiar amidst the magical mayhem.
Meanwhile, the decision to share the part of indentured sprite Ariel among four actresses results in some poignant moments and a whirl of music and movement that spins into impish life from the first scene. And Patrick West-Oram and Daniel Jennings are cringingly hilarious as Trinculo and Stephano, Friday-night drunks who greet each other with a stupid dance and eat the audience’s food, stolen by a snarling, dirt-smeared and increasingly exasperated Caliban (John Hastings).
This fast-paced adaptation takes ‘The Tempest’ out of the theatre and into the real world, making it accessible for the ‘Harry Potter’ generation. Catch it in Coram’s Fields from this Thursday; the sky may darken but your mood won’t.