One of Shakespeare’s famous tales of sorcery and spirits gets a spellbinding adaptation by Moving Stage Theatre.
Stepping under the canvas banner on a barge strung with lights, we begin our journey into the imagination. As the programme notes, marionette theatre demands the audience put aside its ‘workaday’ perception (the strings are visible, and we know it’s a wooden puppet). This is, for us, what makes the experience so wholly enchanting - we are drawn into the performance and must create worlds for ourselves with the help of basic but beautifully crafted scenery.
The skill of the operators cannot be underestimated. They create whole ranges of human gestures to keep the eyes glued; a lift and fall of a hand, a shake of the head and a character is revealed. The drunken bottle-glugging antics of Trinculo and Stefano are played with perfect comic timing and accuracy.
The actors’ recording (including Roger Lloyd Pack, perhaps best known as Trig in Only Fools and Horses) features many fine performances and goes beautifully with the action. If we’re nitpicking, we found the strong French accent of Louise Middleton as Ariel slightly distracting, which just goes to show how little fault we could find with the performance.
Two hours fly by in what seems like two minutes, which for Shakespeare is really saying something. In an age where entertainment and visuals are often spoon-fed to us (3D anyone?) it’s very special to recapture something simpler and more authentic. Moving Stage delivers in spades.
By Amy Barnard
The Tempest is on The Puppet Barge at Blomfield Road (opposite no 35) Little Venice W9 2PF on Nov 19 & 20 at 8pm and Nov 14 & 21 at 3pm. Box office: 020 7249 6876. Tickets £10/8.50.