The Tempest, Taking Flight, Cardiff

June 11, 2017 by

Taking Flight Theatre serves up one of Shakespeare’s final plays as a huge ice cream sundae of chaos and sorcery among the fresh green trees of this delightful Cardiff park; all under the firm command of one of Wales’ finest actors, Dean Rehman’s brilliant Prospero.  He leads a superbly high-spirited cast who amongst a lot of shenanigans and audience banter tell the tale of this nasty family and its return to happiness very well.

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There’s an early request for all of us to switch on our imaginations as we are taken aboard the luxury ocean liner The Remembrance and sail to Island Studio’s film lot. There, the magic is overseen by wild imaginative director, Elise Davison. She has devolved most of the work onto Prospero’s wide shoulders. He is more than ably assisted by his servant sprite Ariel, given an excellent and engaging song and dance performance by Milton Lopez.


The play is aimed at all ages from 3 to 103 and the small army of young people in the audience really love the broad comedy, particularly the drunken moments of Stephano and Trinculo, played with relish by Samuel Bees and Huw Blainey.  These two are urged to kill Prospero by his other nasty servant Caliban. Here Ioan Gwyn gets very nasty but also, like everyone else gives us some jolly good laughs as well.    


Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, in this production is no delicate maiden but played with passion as a voluptuous princess by Steph Back. It’s no wonder that Ferdinand falls for her so quickly. Having quickly shed his Caliban costume Ioan Gwyn is equally convincing in a total theatrical manner, as Ferdinand the lost son of guitar playing King Alonso, another very strong and reassuring performance from Samuel Bees.


All this island filmmaking requires a lot of sounds effects outside the range of Prospero’s magic. They have a very colourful cart that carries a lot of equipment for making wind noises etc. But it’s biggest secret is that it is a piano! Huw Blainey gives us a good rendering of Dan Lawrence’s specially written music and he sings with a strong and delightful voice. He also doubles up well as the villainous Sebastian, anther one of the baddies.


Completely the opposite is the warm hearted playing of Gonzalo by Paul Henshall.  A minor role but important to the plot, he provided provisions for Prospero and Miranda when they pushed out to sea.  In Shakespeare’s version, the damage was done by Antonio who pinched Prospero’s dukedom as soon as he was out of the way. In the Elise Davison’s version we have an equally wicked sister, Antonia, given full on siren performance by Sian Owens getting up to no good behind the trees with Huw Blainey’s Sebastian.


In their sailor suits, ablaze with the film company’s pink crab logo Lauren Burgess and Shannon Davison complete this dynamic ensemble, they run around doing all the odd jobs and sing and dance with great aplomb.
There’s always one other beautiful and totally captivating performance in every Taking Flight   Shakespeare productions. Not listed in any cast, basically Sami Thorpe is there to sign the show but she enters right into the middle of the story and gets thrown in all directions. She’s the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. I really enjoyed mine and there was plenty of it. YUM!

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