Such stuff as dreams are made on

Prospero (Adam Thompson) with the spirit Ariel (Jack Tricker)

Prospero (Adam Thompson) with the spirit Ariel (Jack Tricker) - Credit: Archant

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, Level Three Performing Arts Students, Suffolk New College until Friday, May 17

Caliban (Toby Rapsey) with (r) Stephano (Robert Gilbert) and (l) Trinculo (bradley Tye

Caliban (Toby Rapsey) with (r) Stephano (Robert Gilbert) and (l) Trinculo (bradley Tye - Credit: Archant

A performance of clarity, intelligence and appealing freshness was delivered by a splendid cast who took on one of Shakespeare’s more complicated comedies and told the story with assurance and conviction.

It tells of the usurped Duke of Milan, Prospero, who now practices magic on a desolate island where he lives with his daughter Miranda, served only by Ariel, a feathered wisp, and vengeful creature Caliban.

Prospero creates a tempest that tosses the passengers of a passing ship into the sea and brings them safe to shore. Among them are Prospero’s brother, Antonio, who stole his duchy, and the King of Naples who has a similarly deceitful brother in fellow castaway Sebastian.

Once more on dry land, drunken Stephano and court clown Trinculo form a strange alliance with Caliban and plot to dispose of Prospero.

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Meanwhile, Miranda meets the first young man she has ever seen and promptly falls in love with him and he with her.

And so immortals and mortals mingle in a tale of conspiracy, love and forgiveness. Along the way we laugh and wonder at a world that has such people in it.

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Adam Thompson’s remarkable Prospero is played with quiet yet forceful authority.

Miranda (Roberta Blaza) is blithe innocence. She and Ferdinand (Luther Lucas) have eyes only for each other. They gaze lingeringly and longingly.

Toby Rapsey is an astonishing Caliban, part fish, part human, his voice rasps; one moment fawning and ingratiating, the next full of venomous resentment, a green Gollum whose precious island has been wrested from him. He is once sinister and hilarious as he teams up with the legless Stephano (a splendid Robert Gilbert) and the hapless Trinculo (Bradley Tye).

Ethereal Ariel, played with tremendous physicality and musicality by Jack Tricker, flies to Prospero’s every command.

Among the shipwrecked, Kingsley Mensah as wise old councillor, Gonzalo, believably plays an age much greater than his own and Jamie Friary is a convincing Antonio.

All the players showed great understanding of the text in a performance that also brought us original music by Rob Castellani, and complementary stage, costume and make-up design.

Director Brian Theodore Ralph, whose love of Shakespeare shines throughout the production, has chosen The Tempest as his swansong with the Performing Arts at Suffolk New College.

It is well chosen for, as Prospero says as he relinquishes his magician’s books and robes: “Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air.”


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