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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

Comedy, talks, theatre and art suggestions to suit all tastes across the region over the next seven days

In Women’s Week, the New Wolsey Theatre is celebrating the fact that chief executive Sarah Holmes has made The Stage 100 list of most influential theatre figures. Arts editor Andrew Clarke asks what the award means to her and the company

John Bishop’s back with Winging It, his first national tour in three years. Selling out arenas across the UK, extra dates have been added, including several in Ipsswich and Southend. We found out more.

Have you ever wished that you were born early enough to have been part of Bobby Robson’s FA Cup winning side in May 1978? Well you don’t have to jump aboard the TARDIS or fall through a wormhole in time, you can just audition to take part in a new dance-led reconstruction of Ipswich Town’s history-making victory at Wembley.

Dozens of students are reflecting on the success of their latest show at the Ormiston Sudbury Academy.

Get ready for it, Take That musical The Band visits the Ipswich Regent next year.

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The Orchard Players invite you on a magical carpet ride to Peking market where street rat Aladdin’s plans to woo Princess Jasmine are interrupted by the evil Abanazer.

The Ipswich Regent and New Wolsey Theatre have plenty to cheer about, with record-breaking crowds buying pantomime tickets.

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