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New Era Players - The Tempest

14th to 16th March and 19th to 23rd March 2019

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Spirited Shakespeare

New Era Players master rhythm and meaning of the words

New Era Players: The Tempest, at New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Thursday, March 14, to Saturday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 19, to Saturday, March 23

New Era Players' production of Shakespeare's The Tempest is a masterpiece of clever interpretation. I had never visited their small, but appealing theatre before and I was enormously impressed.

The play started with a simple, effective set, with huge sails as a backdrop. Around us raged the violent storm created by Prospero (Neil Taylor) to bring his enemies to the island.

Prospero and Miranda (Rachel Potter) then set the scene as they developed a convincing and sensitive rapport.

The pace was fast. The comedy trio of Caliban (Ranjan Bhuyan gave an intense performance of confusion and bemusement), Stephano (Ronan Hatfull made a convincing drunk) and Trinculo (Cat Nichols, who enlivened the stage every time she appeared) were fun, lively and energetic.

The more sinister roles of Sebastian (David Zeke) and Antonio (Stephen Bennett) were a good foil to Alonso, King of Naples (Keith Phillips), and his trusty adviser Gonzalo (Mike Huxtable).

The speedy romance between Miranda and Ferdinand (gently portrayed by Neil Dewdney) added another twist to the plot.

The many smaller parts played by Alexander Greenwood-Forkin, David Tute, Peter Knightley, Aoife Linton and Karen Ashby were convincingly portrayed, using traditional masks and yellow fluorescent jackets to indicate their roles.

Weaving in and out of all these characters was the lively, but magical, spirit of Nicola Jackson's Ariel.

From start to finish, the diction was clear and the characters' mastery of the rhythm and meaning of the words supported the unfolding story.

The use of large wooden crates of different heights filled as if by a beachcomber with flotsam and jetsam created a set combining the play's theme with the topical problems of today's world.

Ropes and green plastic netting of all shapes and sizes added to the ambience.

Nigel Winter's insightful direction had flair and brought an artistic perspective that both enriched and enhanced the play.

The stage management and choreography were excellent.

Go and see New Era's The Tempest. You won't be disappointed.