Photos Reviews

The Tempest

July 1997

by William Shakespeare, directed by Mary Jones


Prospero - Philip Jones

Miranda - Kate Onyett

Ariel - Cecilia Gill & Joanna Palmer

Caliban - Daniel Morgan


Shipwrecked Royal Court: -

Alonso - Gordon Halliday

Ferdinand - Michael Graham

Sebastian - David Batty

Antonio - John Marshall

Gonzalo - Peter King

Adrian - Adam Owen-Jones

Francisco - Geoffrey Brace

Stephano - Anthony Morris

Trinculo - John Palmer

Ship's Crew: -

Boatswain - Brian Bowker

Master - Anthony Morris

Spirits: -

Iris - Margaret Butt

Ceres - Lynn Leger

Juno - Anna Gander

Production Team:

Director - Mary Jones

Stage Construction - Chris Scanes, Mike Trout, Barry Hook & Brian Bowker

Lighting - Keith Palmer & Peter Tapp

Sound - Nigel Albright & Michael Ellis

Wardrobe Mistress - Isla Margin

Wardrobe Assistance - Clare Girvan, Sue Geary & Angela Carter

Masks by 'Paper Face' - Teresa Rodrigues (01392-431267)

Music - Fenny Gill, Clare Greenall & members of the cast

Poster Design - Michael Ellis

Front of House - Maureen Whitt

Props - Clare Girvan & Mary Jones

Programme - Philip Jones


From Estuary News:

...Kate Onyett played the role with a freshness and insight...

Rough Magic

It never pays to attend a Shakespearian production with too many preconceived ideas and over-zealous preparation, particularly if you are expected to write a review at the end of the performance - far too much of one's enjoyment depends upon the mood of the moment and the particular show that one is attending. I was very aware of that fact walking home from Estuary Players' 20th Anniversary production of The Tempest at Matthews Hall.

I have been fortunate in seeing several productions of the play over the years - some successful, some not. (I particularly remember a strange, all-female production where Prospero had been transformed into a mother figure - totally upsetting the essential balance of the play). Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in 1611 - very late in his dramatic career - when he was an established master of theatrical effect, plot and characterisation. Above all else, he had an understanding of audience reaction second to none. As virtually his last piece of stage work, the play is accredited to tell us as much about the man as his craft during this fascinating time in his lifecycle.

I enjoyed the production for a totally different set of reasons that I could have forecast in advance. Mary Jones is a totally dedicated director, combining imagination, keen intelligence and an overwhelming enthusiasm for each project in turn. We can expect her work to reflect all these qualities. Whatever I might have expected, however, there were the invariable surprises, gentle nudges and new thought-provoking interpretations to keep me on my toes throughout the evening's performance.

There is no debate about it, The Tempest is Prospero's play. I have seen a succession of highly-charged, ranting, fearsome, silver-tongued Prosperos in past performances, but there was much of the gentle academic, soft-centred philosopher about this one. Obviously the long exile and isolation of the island had drawn the teeth of initial anger and resentment. Philip Jones, both in performance and in profile, looked every inch the Nostrodamus necromancer, but one always felt that his erstwhile protagonists and the young people around him were in no real danger from the occasional theatrical outbursts. Like a once-feared schoolmaster, one felt that over-familiarity had weakened the sting and severity of the Grand Master's powers of correction over the errant spirits that he set out to control.

What a glorious, glamorous pair these spirits were. Whoever thought of dividing the role of Ariel between Cecilia Gill and Joanna Palmer must be congratulated. The two girls were a constant delight and added much to the magic of the evening.

Poor Miranda, not the most assertive or rebellious of Shakespeare's heroines, but not so in this production. Kate Onyett played the role with a freshness and insight which gave the character a resilience that I had not noted before. This Miranda was no cowed, shrinking violet, totally submissive to her father's will; the girl obviously had a will of her own. This was obviously a more prepared and maybe predatory Miranda than fresh-faced Prince Ferdinand and (at one stage, young Adrian) might have expected to meet on that lonely isle. It was not in much doubt who would end up wearing the breeches in that coupling. Both Kate and Michael Graham played their roles well and with total charm.

Caliban was every bit as important and exciting as he was meant to be. The casting of Daniel Morgan was perfect - lithe, husky and totally mobile, he had an animal magnetism entirely of his own making. Young enough to match Ferdinand, but always transmitting pure danger in contrast to the Prince's safe acquiescence. Prospero was wise to move his daughter back to Milan!

Shakespeare's clowns are rarely to modern taste but Stephano and Trinculo in this production were a worthy exception. Seldom can they have been better played. John Palmer as Trinculo was a magnificent foil to Anthony Morris' Stephano with a degree of high camp comedy that would have made Julian Clary envious. Both actors had total control over every scene in which they appeared and the interaction between the two clowns and Caliban were a mainstay of the production.

By contrast to the clowning, the Court Party were as sober, sedate, sinister and supportive as their important roles demanded. The Three Goddesses were magnificent and magisterial in their sensational masques/masks (beautifully designed by Paper Face 01392 431267!) whilst the Ship's Crew were every bit as salty as one could have wished.

It is quite clear that Estuary Players perform Shakespearian drama with expertise and enthusiasm to a very high standard indeed. It was rewarding to see so many fine, seasoned performers returning to the ranks for this important performance but very, very refreshing to see such a galaxy of young talent who are more than equipped to take up the torch for the next decade ahead. 'Rough Magic?' By no means! This was a highly-polished, professional performance of which director, production team and performers can be very proud. Congratulations all of you and many many more successes to your creditable score in the years ahead.

- Reviewed by: Gryff

From Express & Echo:

...the performance came alive with the appearance of Anthony Morris and John Palmer...

Magical play casts spell on audience

A packed house saw a spirited version of The Tempest at the Northcott Theatre last night.

The Estuary Players tackled Shakespeare's magical play on a minimalist stage but with maximum commitment.

On the whole the execution was good, although some actors could have projected their voices more.

There were instances too where you had the impression some characters were doing a read-through rather than performing in front of an audience. But the good points outshone the limitations.

Deserving of particular mention was the use of two actresses in Cecilia Gill and Joanna Palmer who together played Ariel. Daniel Morgan showed talent as Caliban but the performance came alive with the appearance of Stephano and Trinculo, played by Anthony Morris and John Palmer respectively.

Palmer's camp Trinculo earned hearty laughs for taking mincing and silly walks to new heights.

Even the fidgety and annoying schoolgirls behind this reviewer managed to tear themselves away from their lollipop wrappers to have a giggle.

- Reviewed by: Mark Lang


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