REVIEW: Young cast shines in The Tempest

PERFECT FOR THE ROLE:  Maddy Clare Lardner is Ariel, with fellow cast members Jacob Agius and Megan O’Hara on the left.

PERFECT FOR THE ROLE: Maddy Clare Lardner is Ariel, with fellow cast members Jacob Agius and Megan O’Hara on the left.

Shakespeare is not easy at the best of times.

But put one of his most famous plays in the hands of a young group of thespians full of vitality, enthusiasm, energy and talent, and you end up with a very enjoyable show.

Directors Dan Stranger and Craig Lindeman of Reamus Youth Theatre were faced with the difficult task of making sense out of a shortened version of The Tempest, but it all works out well because of the young cast. 

The play has many facets – fantasy (involving spirits), a love interest, revenge, forgiveness, humour, politics, regret and greed for power.

I said Shakespeare is not easy, but what I really meant is that I find Shakespeare not easy. 

You have to pay full attention to the dialogue while keeping up with the action, so I advise those wishing to attend, and are not familiar with the plot, to read the Directors’ Notes before the start.

The story revolves around Prospero, the once Duke of Milan (played by Adam Hall) and his daughter Miranda (Hanna Davies) who had been stranded on an island between Tunis and Naples. 

Prospero had been cheated out of his dukedom by his brother Antonio (Jacob Agius) and Queen Alonso (Bree Horwood) but thanks to some magic from “spirit” Ariel (Maddy Clare Lardner) all the main characters are brought to the island where matters come to a head.

This production is set “in the round”, that is the seating is on three sides of the stage where the audience is close to the action and there is no problem with hearing all the words spoken. 

Stage settings are minimal with a few ropes moved after each scene – but it really works.

It is difficult to single out any member of the cast for special mention but I feel Maddy Clare Lardner was perfectly cast as Ariel.

Jumping around the stage she really put some vigour and action into every scene. 

Adam Hall as Prospero was also excellent as the strong silent type – will he pursue revenge or forgiveness?  

And I also enjoyed the role of “monster” Caliban (Zac Smith), another full of enthusiasm with his performance. 

Drunken sailors Trinculo (Sam Lambert) and Stephano (Brendon Harris) were very funny while Miranda (Hanna Davies) and Gonzalo (Matthew Collins) were great.

But really it was a team effort and you can tell that all the cast members were having fun so I have to give them all top marks. 

Others included Master (Alastair Anderberg), Boatswain (Brad Walker), Sebastian (David Kimber), Ferdinand (Alex Simpson), Adrian (Thomas Robson), Francisco (Meg O’Hara), Iris (Kellie Taylor), Ceres (Ashlee Brown), Juno (Chris Le Page) and Spirit (Milly Lambert).

The directors describe this as a “highly physical production” and driven by “dedicated minds with a sheer love for the theatre”. 

I agree – it showed. Well done to all.

Highly recommended for an entertaining night out.

The Tempest is at Maitland Repertory Theatre on Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

John Brown is a foundation member and former president of Friends of Maitland Library.