Writes Madeleine Burton in The Herts Advertiser
"A quirky production of a Shakespeare play kicked up a storm at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans ( January 16-19). A talented team of young performers (pictured above) from
Theatrix Performing Arts breathed fresh life into The Tempest.
The Tempest was directed by Danny Swanson who also directed Twelfth Night when Theatrix performed it two years ago. His deft touch was clear in the latest production which made full use of the Abbey Theatre, incorporated a screen on which photographs - apparently taken with a periscope during the performance - were shown and was performed on a simple yet effective set which in turn provided some comic moments.
Kieran McGinn took the part of Prospero and gave a virtuoso performance in a demanding role. His presence was a dominating force both on and off-stage as he controlled events after his enemies were shipwrecked on his enchanted island. His relationship with Ariel, evocatively performed by Amy Butterworth, was intriguingly packed with innuendo which suggested far more than master/servant association. Katie Robson as Caliban, who emerged from a smoke-filled manhole, spent the entire production on her stomach yet still managed to turn in a first-rate performance. Her scenes with the jester Trinculo - an inspired interpretation from Miranda Kiek - and the drunken butler Stephano played by Robble Wilson were particularly good because it is not easy to bring such dialogue to life. It would be fair to say the entire company gave its all but some roles in The Tempest are more memorable than others. Having said that two others deserve to be singled out -
Geraldine Driver as the old retainer Gonzalo and Nicola Smith as Miranda, both of whom gave extremely accomplished performances.
Theatrix is a particulary talented school of performing arts which does not shirk from handling material like Shakespeare which other youth drama groups might avoid. It is all credit to them that they do and they fully deserve the good audiences they attract as a result."
Writes Aaron Bateman in the St Albans Observer
"Shakespeare's Tempest is a play I fell in love with as an undergraduate. Director Danny Swanson's updating of Prospero's omniscience was particularly prescient. The magician's power now rests in his technological prowess. His network of periscopes and spying flowers adorn Jon Douglas' playfully designed set, relaying pictures of the shipwrecked company's various plots and counterplots. This multi-media aspect of the production was certainly one of its strengths. Accompanied with the poignant music employed before and after each act, it lent the play an element of melancholy which sat well with the natural exuberance of the young cast. It is harder to play care-worn when you are young, after all.
Elsewhere, two of Theatrix's young actors were doing themselves especially proud. Robbie Wilson as drunken butler Stephano and Miranda Kiek as the jester Trinculo were consistently excellent and their exchanges with Prospero's deformed slave Caliban were a delight. Towards the end, the production gathered a somewhat perfunctory head of steam but I have yet to see one which resolves this problem with the play adequately. Everything ends a little too neatly for me.
The Tempest is a large and multi-layered play and Theatrix's young cast did superbly with the subtlety of the language and succeeded in conveying an air of magic and mystery. Which is really what The Tempest - and Shakespeare - is all about."