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Review: The Tempest, Red Rose Chain, Jimmy’s Farm, Wherstead, to August 28

PUBLISHED: 07:37 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 07:37 01 August 2016

Kirsty Thorpe, Ed Day, Lawrence Russell, Jack Parker and Rachael McCormick in Red Rose Chain's The Tempest. Photo: Bill Jackson

Kirsty Thorpe, Ed Day, Lawrence Russell, Jack Parker and Rachael McCormick in Red Rose Chain's The Tempest. Photo: Bill Jackson

Archant

Behind the sorcery, sprites, monsters and mayhem is a story about a family, albeit a dysfunctional one.

Lawrence Russell and Ed Day in Red Rose Chain's The Tempest. Photo: Bill Jackson Lawrence Russell and Ed Day in Red Rose Chain's The Tempest. Photo: Bill Jackson

The tale about usurped duke Prospero’s quest for revenge seems simple but it’s not, serving as the starting point for several story strands. One of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, there are less characters which is easier on the brain. Writer and director Joanna Carrick employs clever subtle devices so you’re never confused amid all the action.

There’s lots of it. It may be the smallest cast ever used in the woods, but it’s a really dynamic show. The pace never slackens and, despite the toing and froing between the different arcs, it holds your attention. All the kids there were enraptured, quite the feat considering Carrick doesn’t dumb down the content.

The space, a character in itself, was used really well in ways they’ve not done before. I loved the set, comprised of scores of metal barrels that served as everything from a ship to a bed. The execution reminded me of the company’s previous two shows, The Tale of Mr Tod and Richard III. The environment was created from bits and pieces lying around, encouraging you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

The 20th Century setting, with a very heavy dollop of Italian influence, was a clever fit for the story and music. The latter provides one of the show’s stand-out moments in the second half. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know the bit I mean. Coming out of nowhere it works when it really shouldn’t.

The sound design, enhanced by the occasional call of one of the farm’s resident peacocks; lighting and choreography helped immerse you in the action. So too did the new splash zone. A familiar panto technique, the way it was weaved into the story was a stroke of genius.

Full of ridiculous moments, there was lots of physical comedy. With the odd exception, I’m not a fan of farce but I found myself laughing. I really enjoyed the scenes involving jester Trinculo, butler Stephano - coming across as the love child of Fawlty Tower’s Manuel and Nintendo karting enthusiast Mario - the monstrous Caliban and enslaved sprite Ariel.

It’s not all pratfalls and buckets and water. Prospero’s toying with Caliban, Ariel, the brother who dethroned him and everybody else he’s shipwrecked on the island he now calls home is dramatic. The romance between prince Ferdinand and Prospero’s daughter Miranda is cute; especially juxtaposed against Prospero’s unnecessary meddling.

Purists may not like Carrick’s approach, but Shakespeare wasn’t one for sticking to the rules either.

Wayne Savage

Theatre in the Forest returns to Jimmy’s Farm as Shakespeare meets the wild west (with a dash of Richard Curtis) in Red Rose Chain’s As You Like It.

Katherine Jenkins is one of the few artists who could look perfectly picturesque gliding towards the Waterfront Stage at Latitude Festival.

Festival goers to Latitude put their best fashion foot forward at the Suffolk festival.

The melodic guitar riffs blared out with a bouncing success as Two Door Cinema Club took to the Obelisk stage on Saturday afternoon.

Skies were looking grim over the main stage but the chilled, dance anthems of Milky Chance managed to just keep the weather at bay, and get everyone in the crowd dancing and jumping in time with the guitar beat.

American comic Reginald D Hunter was at his offensive best despite having to perform his set from a wheelchair after breaking a leg.

With his charming good looks and energy filled set, it’s hardly surprising the comedy tent was filled with enough young girls to rival a One Direction concert.

It’s hard to believe this wry and witty comedian started out as a corporate lawyer, although then again it’s not.

Lucy Rose, Skott and Joel Dommett were among the acts to strut their stuff on Saturday afternoon at Henham Park as Latitude Festival continued.

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