THE TEMPEST. Orange Tree Theatre touring.
The Tempest is really as much a haunting poem as a play, so it is one of the harder Shakespeares to encapsulate in a one-hour version for 12-year-olds.
There is not a lot of action, the fools are fairly dire and capturing the "rough magic" of the text really needs a spell-binding mix of costume, scenery, lighting and sound.
This is not easy for actors to achieve in a plain, daylit school hall. But at Roseberry school, Epsom, the three men and one woman worked hard - very hard - to create a highly serviceable introduction to one of Shakespeare's most delightful but, in the crude sense of the word, least "dramatic" works.
They sometimes tried too hard - pitching voices too loud even in a sizeable hall and not always allowing the verse much time to breathe although, to be fair, they were dealing with a slightly reserved audience. But they involved the pupils well at the beginning and again near the end.
The shipwreck was good, so was Miranda and Ferdinand's love scene which brought a hush to the watching girls. Caliban's knee-cracking hunched walk was a gymnastic triumph and the movement of the whole company was excellent - especially when Ariel in great blue wings swooped around the space.
The actors played up to four parts each. Karen Bowlas did Miranda beautifully and two men and a spirit as well. Tim Weekes was a dignified and strong Prospero, Craig Cremin gave us a Caliban on whose nature "nurture" would clearly never stick, and James Lloyd-Pegg was a sizeable but graceful Ariel. Kate Beales directed.
Bernard Adams Touring in the London area until mid-December. Details: 0181 940 0141