REVIEW: The Tempest, dir. by Ray Malone, The Rose Playhouse

Lets be clear, I love Shakespeare, but I HATE The Tempest.

Almost every production I have ever seen has struggled enormously. The more complex and flawed aspects of the plot are often left drowned in the language, masked desperately by copious amounts of glittery special-effects. A partnership as unstable and demanding as the DUP-Tory coalition, Shakespeare's most 'magical' play serves to either make or break the companies that bravely tackle it; for SeaChange Theatre, the result is fantastically the former.

Sue Frumin's adaptation in combination with Ray Malone's direction metamorphoses some of the most difficult aspects of the narrative (the man/fish speech and the Sycorax explanation in particular) into the most beautiful. Through dramatizing Sycorax's trapping of Ariel in the bark, the audience are able to understand the crucial relationship between Prospero, magnetically played by Marianne Hyatt, and her spirit Ariel- a nuance which, when lost, undermines the narrative entirely.

The production queers the narrative beautifully, aiming not to mimic traditional theatre, but to challenge and redraw its boundaries, proving an accessible and fascinating experience; this becomes particularly notable in the comic moments, performed masterfully by Gerry Bell and Vix Dillon, who own the stage, turning some of Shakespeare's more rambling and inaccessible moments into gold-dust physical comedy, leaving the audience in fits of laughter.

The intimacy of the space allows an incredible connection with the actresses, particularly in moments of direct address, in this way, we are treated to complete immersion in the cryptic natural world of the island. Special note must go to Rosie Jones, who's physicalisation of Caliban is entrancingly complex and human, providing a further layer to a character often designated as simply the 'monster'.

Do see this gem of Queer fringe theatre if you get the chance, a retelling that goes beyond the antiquated serfdom to 'traditional' performance that the Globe's board of directors seems to be so fond of, to instead find new relevance in an often challenging and misunderstood text.

Check out SeaChange's productions and info here!