Review: The Tempest, Etcetera Theatre

This is Get Over It Productions’ ninth year at the Camden Fringe; they just can’t get enough. This year they have brought their gothic version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, impressively condensing it to an hour-long show. The result is an entertaining production with an ambitious vision, executed for the most part with commitment.

The clear gothic vision for Get Over It’s version of The Tempest makes sense. Velenzia Spearpoint as Miranda is portrayed as a typical gothic heroine, naïve and longing for something beyond her small world to the point of melodrama. After eight years experience, the team clearly know how to work with a small space, making expert use of a couple of stools, a chest and a drape to create the island of The Tempest.

The most impressive aspects of this production are these design elements. The use of a rich colour palette across set, costume and lighting deepens their gothic vision. There is no mention in the programme of who was responsible for these elements, so I can only assume the credit is due to director Paula Benson (who also plays Prospero) and assistant director Spearpoint for these effective choices.

As well as Miranda’s new look, Ariel has also had a radical makeover. Sheetal Kapoor appears here as a kind of sexy tinkerbell. In her bejeweled leotard with sheer paneling, she looks more glam than goth. The choreography choices for her character are overly stylised, so that her impressive performance doesn’t quite gel with the rest of the production.

On the other hand, Tori Louis as Caliban provides a thoughtful physicality for the beast of the island. Not an easy part to play by any means, Louis brings the strongest performance in the show for her believable portrayal of Propsero’s enslaved creature. Another stand-out performance is Sassy Clyde as Ferdinand, managing to effectively capture a masculine physicality.

The team’s choice to shift into the pantomime feels like a disservice to their vision. This melodrama is amped up by their choice of cuts – Ferdinand proposes to Miranda within about three lines of meeting her. There are also some additions that feel unneeded – the use of a ukulele, and some additional lines as entertaining asides, which diffuse the strength of the team’s vision. This oscillation between naturalism and melodrama undermines much of the power of Propsero’s final speech. It seems you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Get Over It are onto something interesting with their all-female cast, adding a new dimension to Miranda’s ‘How beauteous mankind is!’ This is a talented team, and with some confidence in their ideas, they could definitely be a company to watch.

The Tempest played at Etcetera Theatre until 30 August. For more information, see the Camden Fringe website.  Photo by the Camden Fringe.