Paul Johnson | 04 Mar 2012 16:47pm
Finding a little theatre hidden deep under Waterloo station was a gem – wonderfully intimate and friendly. As I sat in the auditorium waiting for the show to start, I could hear the trains rumbling overhead. It wasn’t an intrusive sound, but strangely comforting that melted into obscurity as soon as the lights dimmed and the opening bars played. I was at the Network Theatre Waterloo to see Bernie C Barnes vision of The Tempest – all part of the RSC open stages project. I have to admit, I was somewhat apprehensive as I read the programme. It was set in the 1960’s with females playing many of the roles we usually associate with male actors. Instead of ‘Alonso, King of Naples’ and his brother ‘Sebastian’, we were entreated to ‘Queen Alonza of Naples’ and her sister ‘Sebastienne’. We also had a female ‘Caliban’ and ten, yes, count ’em, ten ‘Ariel’s, but it worked, and it worked very well indeed, a credit to writer Bernie, who also directed the play. The ‘Ariel’s were usually on stage together in, but each speaking various different lines, conveying the many moods and facets of this devilish sprite. This worked so well on such lines as “I come to answer thy best pleasure, be it to fly, to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curled clouds”. I needn’t have worried about the role reversal as it worked beautifully. Cristina Haraba as ‘Queen Alonza’ still carried that air of power and authority as befitting her character. Sally Lofthouse was wonderfully naÃ¯ve and innocent as ‘Miranda’, and provided an ideal foil against Keith Wait’s ‘Prospero’, and later, ‘Ferdinand’, played by Kal Aise. The scene where Miranda is spying on Ferdinand collecting logs was a treat to watch as she gasped and was truly smitten by his well-oiled six-pack and rippling muscles, reminding me of that cola advert from a few years back. For me, a very camp ‘Trinculo’ was a joy to watch as his timing was metronome perfect. The scene where Trinculo (Paul Hoskins), Stephano (Nigel Williams) and Caliban (Alex Rivers) all meet up under the gabardine was a master-class in timing, expression and comedy. Williams played the drunken butler so well; he could have been a professional lush. Garith Kearns as ‘Antonio’ and Sarah Grove (Sebastienne) played their scenes beautifully with sexual overtones that blended so well with their characters and plot. The play was performed with no set, albeit, a few well-placed pieces of low rostra scattered around. The whole project was set to some great jazz music, and Cheryl Felgate the choreographer, did an excellent job of combining the jazz rhythms to the on stage action. All in all, it was a well-conceived piece of theatre where everyone concerned with the production deserved that deafening round of applause that rewarded them at the end of the evening.
- : admin
- : 03/03/2012