The Little Tempest

Let’s get one thing straight from the start, there was nothing “little”about this massively ambitious project undertaken by Brighton Little Theatre as part of Brighton Sealife’s 150th anniversary year. And for the most part those ambitions were realised.

Bill Griffiths’ adaptation worked well, the essence of the story was there, the magic and the comedy played well. And the cast were absolutely on point from start to finish, coping with the strange acoustic of the Victorian structure that was greedily swallowing their lines. Fortunately for we the audience the plot was finely distilled so that what was lost in vocal projection was made up for by well placed physical theatre.

The score and lyrics penned by Michael James are excellent, as good, if not in places better, than anything conjured up by the Disney studios and they are lavishly produced too. And there were some very fine voices at play here. Sam Nixon’s Prospera, Bridgett Ane Goddard and Edie Behr in particular took those songs and delivered them with power and with style. Antonia North and her puppet accomplices brought Caliban to life with creepy realism that no doubt gave some of the young audience sleepless nights and credit there must also be given to Edd Berridge, creator of the puppets used throughout and Barbara Campbell for the costumes.

There was magic at play but there were also a few issues that detracted from the whole. The cavernous structure certainly swallowed the lines and the lack of lighting on the players was a sad omission, I do like to see an actor’s face. I was also surprised that Shakespeare’s language had been in part preserved in the dialogue but dismissed in the lyrics and felt that perhaps both might have been better deployed for a young audience by using modern day language, for those of us old enough to know the play well it did not matter but for kids… well I think they could have been better engaged. That said the children, who were the larger part of the audience, seemed to be enthralled by the spectacle even if left behind by the plot.

Brighton Little Theatre are to be applauded for this major endeavour and the whole piece deserves a future beyond this magical anniversary production.

Andrew Kay

Brighton Little Theatre at Sealife Brighton

30 September

Rating: ★★★★☆

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