Turbulence[author-post-rating] (2/5 stars)

Entita Company’s Turbulence, billed as a prequel to The Tempest,  asks a novel but really quite needless ‘what if..? of Shakespeare’s final play. The contested dukedom is now a ruthless business empire, complete with all the necessary advisors, employees and idiot hangers-on. Big boss Prospero’s been missing for years, shamed by the shady secret of the disastrous ‘Sycorax Project’. Unfortunately for his usurpers, it seems he’s out to reclaim what’s rightfully his when a selection of vaguely recognisable characters find themselves brought together on a commercial flight bound for an unknown destination.

It’s an innovative enough idea, if a rather muddled one, mostly because the production vacillates frustratingly between radically re-imagining and entirely relying upon the original plot. There are some pleasing touches: Stephan and Trixy, the absurd and ineffectual pair of journalists desperate for any scoop , are a witty enough rewrite of the power-hungry fools, whilst Ariel is split into two scheming stewardesses who really aren’t as interested in customer care as they should be. Miranda however, (inexplicably left behind by Prospero in Entita’s version) is a less inspiring update – an eternal little-girl-lost with severe daddy issues who, much like her Shakespearean counterpart, doesn’t really do anything interesting. A subplot concerning a rich old man (Alonso, but you can’t tell), his dissatisfied young wife (a female Sebastian… I think) and the ruthless Antonio relies on lazy and near-offensive gender stereotypes that are also a little too Shakespearean for my liking, ones that really shouldn’t be being upheld by a university-age company.

Though disappointingly limited, Turbulence is not an entirely unsalvageable production. Paul Ainsworth’s set design is really quite striking; what stands as the suggestion of the aeroplane looks like the exposed ribcage of some industrial dinosaur. Nonetheless, though the premise has mileage, Turbulence needs a far sharper and cleverer script, a lot more clarity and a stronger stylistic cohesion to deliver on what could be a promising adaptation. To be perfectly honest, I expected rather more flair and a little less cliche from Entita, especially when its facing stiff competition from acclaimed companies such as Junction 25, which is significantly younger. It is The Tempest after all, so where are all the profundities, all the grand universal themes demanding our investment? At least the concentrated use of physical theatre demonstrates the company is actively trying to cultivate an identifiable style for themselves, but overall, Turbulence remains as uneven a production as its title might suggest.

Turbulence is playing at Greenside as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until August 24.  For more information and tickets, please visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.