This Last Tempest

Uninvited Guests & Fuel
Unity Theatre, Hope Place
24th January 2015

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

The play opens with all of Shakespeare's Tempest characters departing on a boat, with only Caliban (Richard Dufty) and Ariel (Jessica Hoffman) left on the enchanted isle. Some recorded applause fades to the sound of the wind blowing and the sea lapping ashore as the two incumbents are left to their fate.

Yes! Yes! Yes, Yes, Yes! Yes! explodes Caliban who can hardly contain himself. Prospero and his detestable enslavement has gone. Ariel is more reflective having been released from a less bitter servitude.

Now as atavist and elemental left to their own devices they must face this brave new world with only 'Musician' (Neil Johnson) for company, on a stage that is both childlike and sophisticated at the same time. Simple wooden boxes make mountains; bits of playschool sandy palm tree beaches; a few logs; a Sisyphean wood pile. There are also trapezes that help or hinder and a wind/smoke generator. All is seamlessly brought into play by director Paul Clarke.

So what can these two opposites do to get it together? Being male and female helps in this imagined colouration of a canvas potent with possibility and latent with danger. Paradise or forbidden planet then? They probe each other like a potential young couple; insulting, stroking, pinching, biting, fighting, fusing; unable to realise it at the time. It's good simple action and dialogue.

We also get Caliban shifting log piles across stage to keep some routine in his life, while Ariel 'floats' above him like a sunflower deep in contemplation to mind numbing music. Together they ruminate along with the waves, cows in the fields and the rocks; endlessly remembering while trying to forget.

What is to be done?

Having carried out for others on demand they now conjure a cataclysm of their own. This 'Last Tempest' is preternatural and animistic in it's psyche cleansing intensity. What has prevailed before need not determine what will be. Slavery and submission can be banished, the machinations of the work ethic usurped, the fruits of the earth deserving of all and not just the privileged and powerful few.

Out of the chaos of actions and the emotions then, a new world can be born, just as in personal relationships the highs and lows add sense and structure to the way forward. Joining the audience half way up the auditorium they indeed ponder what next, before the lights dim and fresh applause ensues.

The minimalist costumes, an Inca-like head dress and sawn-off shin length jeans for her and gorilla-like hairy chest and full length jeans for him, along with the ethereal visual effects and soundscape saw this 75 minute one act show go in no time. Tonight Uninvited Guests & Fuel's collaboration asked the questions that needed to be asked when all the rich, famous or lucky in love have exited stage left.

Magical stuff indeed.

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