By June Heywood

It’s a hot summer evening. Eager sponsors, patrons, and reviewers fill the main tent on opening night. The audience gazes beyond the stage at nature’s dramatic backdrop of mountains, ocean, and trees. There’s an expectant hush. It’s the calm before the storm. The people wait but the tempest stays in the teapot, the lid firmly on.

The traditional claps of thunder, the flashes of lightning, and the fury all are missing from this production. The plodding action is relieved by some performances. The comic trio of Christopher Gaze as the drunken Stephano, Torquil Campbell as Trinculo the clown, and especially Sean Divine as the strangely compelling savage, Caliban, raise laughter each time they appear.

Tiffany Lyndall-Knight gives a fine performance (bar her singing) as Ariel, the quick and nimble spirit. The tested and true lovers Miranda (Moya O’Connell) and Ferdinand (Martin Sims) are well-matched with their good looks and youthful charm. The wise, old counsellor, Gonzalo, played with ponderous depth by John Innes, balances the romance and frivolity with his thoughts on compassion, forgiveness, and a peaceful, ideal world.

It is depth and aged wisdom that is absent from Christopher Weddell’s performance in the lead part as Prospero. At this stage in his career, Mr Waddell’s good looks are too gentle and too young for the part. His voice needs to be set free to sing or to deepen to deliver Shakespeare’s magnificent lines. His movements need to confirm our belief that he is an old, wise scholar who prizes knowledge above duty.

Mara Gottler’s costumes, props, and puppets are a feast for the eyes. She dresses the spirits in shades of blue adding masks and colours for dramatic effect. The authentic costumes of the other characters are rich in texture and detail and as spotless as the script requires them to be.

The original music composed and performed by George Ryan gives us a rap, a round, a ballad and more. It changes the pace for the audience, some members of which were beginning to get restless twenty minutes before the final curtain call.

As Prospero tells us in his Epilogue, his “project…was to please.” And please it did. But I wanted to be shaken by The Tempest.