Theatre review: The Tempest

The TempestPickaquoy Arena, Kirkwall

IN the year of Scotland's islands, what better play for an island community to put on, as part of an island festival, than The Tempest? Involving over 100 local people, including around 40 delightfully enthusiastic primary school children, it was an ambitious choice. Director Andi Ross and his team worked with minimal staging to create Prospero's tempestuous island, placing focus firmly on the performers.

While it may need more than the tricks of Prospero's remote-control handset to transform the Pickaquoy venue into a theatre that does full justice to Shakespeare, aspects of the production would have gained from further refinement. The exciting sounds of storm left no doubt as to what they were about, but drowned out the voices speaking below them. Relentless projections of island grass, wafting in the wind, filled the blank back wall space, but distracted as they cut across the actors front-stage.

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As Prospero, Robin Preston brought a gravitas to the role, and fatherly affection to Nikki Wylie's Miranda. The most natural Shakespearian actor was Graham Garson as the comic Trinculo, his scenes with Gareth Williams as Stephano picking up a momentum that then slowed in pace as the play went on. Alasdair Nicolson's new score of incidental music – performed by Pipers 3 as if conjuring up the spirits of the air– captured the essence of the drama, although it would have been good to hear more of it.