Shakespeare’s final play is given the Heartbreak Productions Treatment this summer with a high energy romp through the ‘Love Island’ comedy with its multiple characters, symbolism and magic, keeping everyone on their toes.
The framing device of the play centres on a small stone Druid’s circle which becomes the ship and then the island at various times. The summer solstice and pagan Druid rituals add music and revelry at every turn
You did what?!
Howard Scott Walker is Prospero the magician and rightful Duke of Milan. He waves a book of runes with accomplished authority. Amy Gardyne a favourite Heartbreak regular, is Miranda and Ariel the spirit who does Prospero’s bidding, and a few other things as well. All Heartbreak actors need to have unbelievable energy as they morph into often several characters in one play, and sing, dance and race around the set at speed.
Any excuse for mincing
Darryl Hughes as Ferdinand and Sebastian (and a few other things) even managed a bit of fire eating just to make sure you get your money’s worth. Ben Thorne imposes as the monstrous Caliban who likes a bit of liquor and who starts the story as a slave but is set free at the conclusion of the play.
I love a bit of Woodpecker
Prospero attempts to control things with his magic and creates the Tempest of the title which results in a nasty shipwreck and multiple other characters becoming cast aways on the very same island.
Many people believe that Prospero is based on Shakespeare himself and certainly the themes of magic, displacement, love and redemption are echoed throughout many of his other plays.
The Tempest is meant to be a tragi comedy and Heartbreak, in their best tradition make the very most of the comedic opportunities. I’ve never seen the Tempest be such a romp! Actors were in and out of the Druid’s circle dressing up, running away and being pursued by various magical apparitions. Three wolves were biting people on the backside at one point which was amusing
Romance for Miranda
The weather was not kind the weekend we had The Tempest in Jesmond Dene in Newcastle, although it is a very lovely leafy outdoor setting – just next to Pet’s Corner. In actual fact, we had our very own torrential Tempest just to create an element of pathetic fallacy! (Google it)
Heartbreak audiences however, are not deterred by the vagaries of the weather – they are made of sterner stuff. They turn up with their wellies, waterproofs, umbrellas and picnic paraphernalia and enjoy themselves regardless. Two girls seemed to have brought all their bedding from their beds at home and snuggled up on the ground in comfort as they lay down to watch the frantic proceedings.
I liked the Druid elements of the play with the Moon, the Sun and the Green Man putting in a pagan appearance or two and Prospero did offer read people’s runes at one point. By the time the ‘revels now have ended’ the rain had happily ended too and we all went home with a smile on our faces.