The Tempest at The Anglers
Open Bar theatre company was founded in 2015 by Vicky Gaskin and Nicky Diss with the aim of offering theatre-goers an accessible route into Shakespeare’s vast works. They tentatively return to their outdoor productions, working in partnership with Fuller’s Brewery, to stage 22 Covid-friendly shows in pub gardens across London and nationwide. Ready to tackle the comedic and tragic themes of The Tempest, the paired-down cast of six takes central stage in multiple roles at sundown as the stars begin to twinkle over the suburb of Teddington.
We first meet our main protagonist Prospero, former Duke Of Milan, who is boldly played by seasoned thespian Adam Courting. His booming voice recounts the story of how he escaped from his sister Antonia and rival King Alfonso. Taking his only daughter Miranda (portrayed authentically by actor Jessica Aldade) on a small boat, he ends up on a tiny island for nearly 12 years, his only company the tree spirits and his voluminous collection of books on magic.
Prospero is finally granted his revenge when a shipwreck come ashore holding Antonia, with his son Ferdinand and loyal staff amongst the marooned. The ex-noble enlists the help of the spirit Arial in return for her freedom in order to claim back his title and overturn the castaways. The story then weaves a dramatic and witty tale of love, drunken revenge and a storm that threatens to end all of their lives.
Two-tiered scaffolding and billowing silks create the illusion of a ship with sails. A Peter Pan-esque vibe unfurls as Lauren Harling (Arial) uses her impish form to wrap and fall from the silks hypnotically. Nathanial Curtis brings much-needed humour to the play: from his camp portrayal of Trinculo to his improvisation as Ferdinand, he’s an integral part of the success of this adaptation, perfectly countering the dry banter from Thomas Judd in his dual roles as Sebastian and Stephano. There are Covid-friendly open tent pods for the cast’s frequent costume changes, and intermittent jokes like “Do you know how to furlough a spirit?” gently remind the audience that they are performing in unprecedented times.
On a warm, late-summer evening, within the magical setting of festoon lighting and flowing table service, it’s easy to abandon reality and immerse yourself in this enormously enjoyable adaptation of The Tempest. Fingers crossed (and covered in anti-bac) they get to see all of their shows out.
Photo: Open Bar
The Tempest is at The Anglers on 21st September 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.