The Tempest: Oxford Theatre Guild
Updated: Jul 21
Review: The Tempest, an Oxford Theatre Guild production, on at University Parks from 19 - 30 July. Book your tickets here.
[Disclosure: The Oxford Theatre Guild provided me with free tickets, a free programme and free drinks for the purposes of this review.]
The Oxford Theatre Guild has given us the quintessential Oxford experience with its summer show, Shakespeare’s Tempest, set in the magical surrounds of University Parks.
Niall McDaid, who plays Ariel.
The Tempest is the story of a sorcerer and his daughter who are stranded far away from home on an inhospitable island, full of alien beings and strange spirits. While there have been countless different adaptations of this story - from sci fi tv series to haunting dance productions – the OTG’s version is largely straight forward – played as written.
Hannah Haseloff, playing Miranda and Fran Godsal, who plays Prospera.
There is something special about the OTG which raises it above the usual am dram group, and that is the professionalism with which it approaches everything it does. From the high quality production values, which would rival some professional companies, to the open and transparent audition process – everything is done by dedicated and talented people who love the theatre - and it shows.
Mark Fiddaman, playing Caliban, Fran Godsal as Prospera and Hannah Haseloff as Miranda.
In some senses, The Tempest is a difficult play for an am dram group because Shakespeare’s text has tightly dictated the scope of the characters’ personalities – making it very challenging for non-professionals to make the characters their own. For the most part, the actors play the characters straight down the line, with some performances stronger and some weaker.
Josh Wedge as Ferdinand.
Josh Wedge does a great job of making Ferdinand cheerful, funny and cute. Quite often professional actors play Ferdinand as very earnest (and slightly boring) - so it was refreshing to see a new interpretation given to this character. Another performance that stood out was Annesh Ramklown as Trinculo. Ramklown brought a genuine comedic subtlety to the feckless Trinculo, managing to avoid the almost irresistible temptation to overact this character.
From left to right, Mark Fiddaman as Caliban, David Lemberg as Stephano and Annesh Ramklown as Trinculo.
I did notice that there were some diction issues that made the dialogue quite hard to understand in some cases. This means that if you don’t already know the play well, you may find it hard to follow the narrative arc. I recommend reading up a summary of the plot before you go – which is something I always recommend for Shakespeare in any event.
Co-director Michael Corbidge, at rehearsal.
From the professional standard logistics (front of house, loos, seating, lighting) to the beautifully designed programme, the OTG’s The Tempest is an excellent amateur production and a real treat.
All photos of the rehearsal taken by Simon Vail, and provided to me by the Oxford Theatre Guild.
If you enjoyed reading this, you might enjoy my other posts about Shakespeare here.