For the penultimate performance of the Liverpool Theatre Festival, A Place for Us brought its edited version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The setting is ideal for open air Shakespeare and the weather managed to hold off the raindrops until the last few minutes.
A Place For Us are a professional creative team who work with students, in this case members of Cronton Sixth Form College, delivering this project with only five days of rehearsals and then presenting at Norton Priory woodland, before this performance at the Bombed Out Church.
Director Kate Allerton has done a wonderful job bringing this all together in such a short time, with an atmospheric soundtrack, some really good movement sequences and some excellent performances from their cast of twelve young people. The part of Prospero being played by Colin Kiyani, the only professional in the cast, brought power and vitality to the role and certainly had the presence of the magical wizard.
But it is the young people I must applaud, for they all worked incredibly well as a team and really delivered with gusto and personality. Their movement was particularly good. Not afraid to use their bodies to express themselves, the shaping and rhythm was well observed and some nice tableau and picture moments in their ethereal woodland costumes.
In just five days they had learnt a script, choreography and gained the confidence to deliver some fine performances. We certainly heard them, but careful projection doesn’t become shouting in a few places. Transferring to a different venue offers up challenges and maybe the comical scene with Caliban and Trinculo under the sacking could have been more central just so we could see it better, but it’s a minor point.
We began with Caliban as a narrator: a good choice as many of the complications of the script have to be left out. Callum Baker was a strong, aggressive Caliban accosting the audience and even had his own song. His main action is with the clowns of the piece: Trinculo the jester, played vigorously by David Slater, who was both funny and scary at the same time. That laugh! It was like a horror movie, but he certainly made us smile. The butler Stephano, played by Lucy Hilditch was clear and strong – a very watchable performance. The three together definitely gave us the fun moments of the piece.
It was very ingenious to have not one, by three Ariel’s (obviously so everyone got a part) but sharing the lines between them worked very well and they all delivered and moved beautifully. Lily-mae Randles, Libby Hughes and Daisy Carey. One yellow, one green and one blue. I don’t know which was which, but they were all charming and especially the blue Ariel, who was exceptionally expressive and fluid.
The shipwrecked company were scaled down somewhat but a strong, expressive performance from Daniel Capener as Alonso, supported well by Sophie Tunney( Gonzalo) Caitlin Smith ( Antonio) and Charlotte Dickson Moore (Sebastian) It’s a shame we didn’t get more of their evil trickery, but this was a whistlestop journey through the play.
The main storyline to feature was Prospero’s matchmaking of his daughter Miranda played by Phoebe Tasker and the young prince Ferdinand played by Daniel Ford, both enthusiastic and well delivered. The shock of the kiss was something to behold!
Congratulations to them all for pulling it together in such a short time with such energy and enthusiasm. Well done to the production team, many of whom were also students.
A short but superb bit of Shakespeare for a Sunday afternoon!
I look forward to seeing more from A Place for Us and Liverpool Theatre Festival will return next summer for its 5th year.
Reviewer: Bev Clark
Reviewed: 30th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: