Words and image by Sophia Moseley
Have you ever been an unwitting onlooker to an argument? That moment of discomfort when someone nearby suddenly shouts at another who in turn retorts with equal vigour? Cut to the opening scene of the acclaimed The Tempest of Lyme and if you were there, you’ll know just what I mean!
The opening scene was staged in the auditorium and the audience were gripped by the verbal jousting as the cast seamlessly cut from current day rehearsal dialogue to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, delivering a fast moving quick witted performance as the cast stowed away behind the audience providing plenty of ‘music hall’ jeering and taunts to complement the spat that was taking place,
“Rule number one, grab your audience from the off”
The animal noises made by some of the cast who encircled the audience along with the lighting soon had everyone convinced we had landed on some mysterious hot tropical island, the Island of Devils.
Then with seagulls screeching overhead and the sound of waves rolling into shore and a strong westerly breeze blowing the sail sized flags, the cast, musicians and audience flowed outside where the rest of the story unfurled.
Including one scene that took the audience completely by surprise when drunken Stephano fell out of the Marine Bar doors onto the balcony,
“How dare you throw me out of your bar! A pox on your Palmer’s Ale”
And as he comes swaggering down the stairs the audience are left wondering ‘is he really drunk?’
The music ensemble completed the atmosphere with a mixture of instruments including whirly tubes and rainmakers.
Probably one of my favourite moments was on board the Sea Venture when it was all hands on deck as the ship was tossed about in the storm but the frenzied activity was suddenly freeze-framed as Sylvester Jourdain gave a short narration; then just as quickly everyone returned to their hauling or bailing.
But one thing’s for sure, with the near perfect weather enjoyed every night during this mammoth production, no one can argue it was anything other than superb!