S4K's Tempest - Gulf Daily News Review


Brilliant musical casts a spell on young and old...

Review By Laala Kashef Al Ghata, Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2013

It is incredibly rare for me to walk into a performance and walk out with absolutely no negative aspects to complain about.

There's usually at least one weak link in the cast, a technical difficulty that disrupts the magic of a performance, or singers who are unable to raise their voices above the music.

I could find absolutely nothing remiss with Shakespeare 4 Kidz' adaptation of The Tempest.

I sat absolutely enthralled for the two hours of the musical, along with the five- and six-year-old children in the row in front of me who were bouncing in their seats as they tried to dance along to the music.

The music was uplifting, beautifully sung, and kept to the theme of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

It tells the story of Prospero (played by the wonderful Ben Goodridge) who was deposed as Duke of Milan by his brother, Antonio (played by Glenn Lloyd) and exiled on an island with his daughter Miranda (played by Yasmin Wakefield).

However, Prospero is a magician and when he spies a fleet of ships approaching with his brother and other enemies on board, he conjures up a tempest to shipwreck them in order to extract his revenge.

Now add in elemental spirits, a young couple falling in love, and a group of men bent on maintaining power and it's the setting for a powerful play.

I was thrilled to find that every cast member had a gorgeous voice, from the leads to the supporting actors.

Writers Julian Chenery and Matt Gimblett did a stunning job with the musical numbers while maintaining a great balance between song and speech.

I was impressed that the company managed to retain some of the important themes of the play, instead of pandering and including only hilarity.

However, the comic relief provided mostly by Stephano (played by Thomas Hewitt) and Trinculo (played by Gary Roe) was always impeccably timed and had the children laughing and giggling as they strutted across the stage.

The spirit Ariel, played by Claire Coultry, was perfect in everything from acting to costume.

It meant that the children constantly followed her every action.

I must also tip my hat to the lighting and sound, done by Dan Creasey and Chris Taylor respectively, because it was a perfect accompaniment to the performance.

Lights flashed at the audience during thunderstorms, and dimmed during moments of quiet, and generally made the show incredibly immersive.

In fact, I often felt that I was watching a pantomime, which is quite an achievement considering the cast doesn't interact directly with the audience.

Company manager Emma Louise Bennett and Chenery, who in addition to co-writing the play directed and produced it, deserve hearty accolades.

The staging was brilliant, with actors being brought on to enhance a storytelling scene and rushing through the audience occasionally to thrill the children.

The choreography by Grace Harrington, from simple mirroring to dance numbers brought the play together and ensured that even when several stories were being told at once, there were no loose ends.

There wasn't an unhappy voice in the audience as I took my leave, and many of the children had enormous smiles on their faces, eclipsed only by my own.

What they say about us:

S4K DREAM: "Having just returned this afternoon from a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Palace Theatre in Manchester I would like to congratulate you on another superb production. the children in my class thoroughly enjoyed themselves and much laughter was had by all. A few years ago I saw your production of Macbeth which was equally outstanding if not even better!"