On Thursday 22nd June we headed up the hill to the grounds of Stafford Castle as Stafford Festival Shakespeare’s 2017 production of The Tempest came to life
The year 1924 is hung on the bridge of the luxury cruise liner that forms a key part of the story and production. Prospero, who’s the Duke of Milan is exiled with his 3 year old daughter, Miranda. They are sent off from Milan in a small boat and end up marooned on a Somalian island.
After this opening scene the year is changed to 1936 and the rest of the story begins to be told aboard a luxury 1930’s luxury cruise liner. This really showcases the talents of the cast as we’re treated to singing and dancing before The Tempest rolls in.
Prospero is played by Stephen Beckett who previously found fame in The Bill and Coronation Street. Doing Prospero’s bidding is Ariel, played by Gavin Swift, the nymph servant! Together they manipulate the other characters and provide a fantastic performance moving the show along.
The first act finishes up after 1 hour and 20 mins with a hilarious scene featuring a slightly tipsy Stephano, played by Johnathan Charles, Caliban, played by Zephryn Taitte and Trinculo, played by James Hornsby. The entire crowd was laughing at the antics of the characters on the stage which contrasted with some of the more “classic” scenes.
The 20 minute interval was sufficient time to spend a penny and refresh our drinks at the bar before we were called to take our seats once again.
The entire cast gave a fantastic performance with, especially with the bigger group numbers when characters would be singing and dancing around. The lighting, staging and special effects helped deliver a very open and accessible interpretation of this Shakespeare classic.
When the show drew to a close after another hour+ the audience gave a rapturous round of applause to a faultless performance.
The production is housed in a purpose built staging area with 3 covered seating areas, A, B and C. There’s a “Bar” tent outside which also serves ice creams and many people had gone along early to have a picnic in the grounds before the performance began.
There is a minibus that will take people from the car park up to the foot of the castle if walking is an issue.
The show runs until Saturday 28th July and tickets are available from £13.50.
The box office can be reached on 01785 619080 or visit the Stafford Festival Shakespeare website.