Matiu-Somes Island-meet at Queens Wharf, Wellington

06/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

Matiu-Somes Island-meet at Queens Wharf, Wellington

07/02/2013 - 16/02/2013

Production Details

Adapted from the play by William Shakespeare

Presented by Bard Productions

Audience to be Shipwrecked on Deserted Island in Hilarious Adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest!

Mystical creatures and grotesque monsters – created by award-winning makeup artists and costume designers – will take audience members on a journey over turbulent seas and through the massive labyrinthine Animal Quarantine Station on Matiu / Somes Island.

From the moment the audience steps onto the ferry at Queen’s Wharf they are become part of the action; and over the course of the performance will come face to face with the natural and historical wonders of the Island which are woven into the show.

From the hilarious plots of murderous drunks, to the lustful romance of young lovers, and the trickery of forest spirits, Shakespeare’s wonderful story truly comes to life in the location where it is actually set: on a mystical, deserted Island!

From the award-winning adventure-theatre company that brought you Frogs Under the Waterfront and Quarantine comes a large-scale adventure that you will never forget. With only six shows tickets will sell fast! So get in quick because you don’t want to miss this one!

February – 7th 8th 9th 14th 15th 16th
Be at Queen’s Wharf at 7:20 PM.
Ferry departs at 7:30 PM.
$36 per ticket Price includes ferry ride (valued at $22).

Bookings through Circa Theatre:
By Phone – 04 801 7992
Online – www.circa.co.nz
In Person – 1 Taranaki Street, across from Te Papa Museum


www.bardproductions.org or email bardproductions@gmail.com 

2014 – return season

From the award-winning adventure-theatre company that brought you Frogs Under the Waterfront and Quarantine comes a large-scale adventure that you will never forget. Last summer the tickets sold FAST, so get in quick! 

February – 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 15th 
Be at Queen’s Wharf at 7:20pm.
Ferry departs at 7:30pm.
$45 per ticket
Price includes ferry ride (valued at $22).

Bookings through Circa Theatre:
By Phone – 04 801 7992
Online – www.circa.co.nz
In Person – 1 Taranaki Street, across from Te Papa Museum

or email paul@bardproductions.org 

Giles McNeill: Stephano
Wiremu Tuhiwai: Trinculo
Jordan Rivers: Ferdinand
Erin Howell: Ariel
Scott Ransom: Prospero
Matt Clayton: Caliban
Claire O'Loughlin: Miranda
Michael Ness: Boatswain   

Paul Stephanus: Director / Producer
Helle Rosenberg: Costume Design and Construction
Olive Moynihan: Costume Design and Construction AND Production Manager
Amalia Calder: Production Asisstant
Marcus McShane: Lighting Design
James Dunlop: Music Composition and Sound Design
Hayley Marlow: Make-up and Special Effects Artist
Michel Rosenberg: Photographer


Giles McNeil - Stephano
Malcolm Gillett - Trinculo
Matt Clayton - Caliban
Scott Ransom - Prospero
Debbie Fish - Ariel
Esmee Myers - Miranda
Jordan Rivers - Ferdinand
Mike Ness - Boatswain

Helle Rosenberg - Costume Design and Construction / Set
Olive Moynihan - Production Manager
James Dunlop - Music Composition
Marcus McShane - Lighting Design
Hayley Marlow - Makeup
Maz Smutley - Makeup
Toby Rosenberg - Photography
Michel Rosenberg - Photography / Set Construction
Paul Stephanus - Director / Producer

Theatre , Site-specific/site-sympathetic ,

Thur, Fri, Sat only

Intricacy lost in harbour crossing

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 11th Feb 2013

A Tempest starts on board the ferry taking the audience to Matiu-Somes when the crew suddenly start to panic. Well, I think that what was happening as the sailors’ shouting was completely drowned out by the noise of the ferry’s engines.

After landing safely and we had been cleared by DOC we trudged up the hill of this “mystical deserted island”, past a watchful Ariel half hidden in the trees, to be herded through a low, narrow entrance into the forbidding, unmagical concrete building that used to be the Animal Quarantine Station. Then Prospero appears in one of the animal pens (“my poor cell”).

Bard Productions have treated Shakespeare’s The Tempest in much the same irreverent way they treated Aristophanes’ The Frogs when they performed Frogs Under the Waterfront so successfully a few years back with the odd topical references thrown in: Roger Hall and Circa Theatre.

Prospero is now exiled from Wellington not Milan and he makes occasional references to Victoria University, The Lord of the Rings, and Justin Beaver amongst other things. Caliban is later described as “a dilapidated circus attraction”. A lot of Shakespeare remains, despite The Tempest having at least fourteen characters and numerous extras while A Tempest has just eight characters.

The masque-like scenes have gone and Prospero’s “our revels now are ended” has become the final speech of the play. It all gets a bit confusing and if you don’t know the play I suggest you swot up on a plot summary as there is none in the programme.

I also suggest you take warm clothing because the second half takes place in an open-air courtyard. A small portable stool could also be useful as there is not quite enough seating in either location.

The acting is am-dram, largely, I suspect, because there seems to be no discernible reason for the adaptation. The sophistication of Shakespeare’s complex plotting and artistic purposes concerning political power, family relationships, nature and art, have been jettisoned in the trip across the harbour.


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Irreverent adaption cuts to an essence

Review by John Smythe 08th Feb 2013

On as balmy a summer night as Wellington has ever produced, the cast aboard the East-West Ferry have trouble convincing us we have been hit by a terrible tempest and are in mortal danger. But we get the idea and play along.

Later it emerges we were aboard a boat that had been chartered by Stephano, the Dean of Victoria University, and Prospero, the brother he usurped, has used his magical powers – through the agency of spritely spirit Ariel – to stir up the storm and bring his miscreant brother to account.  

Those familiar with Shakespeare’s The Tempest will realise this Stephano is a conflation of Alonso, King of Naples; Antonio, King of Milan and brother of Prospero; and Alonso’s butler Stephano. So Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, now becomes Stephano’s son. Trincolo, originally Alonso’s jester, is still out to help Stephano become king of this island, although in the original that was Stephano the butler, not the king of Milan now morphed into the Dean of Victoria. Clear?

Our arrival on Matiu-Somes Island is silently observed by a beautifully body-painted Ariel (makeup artists Hayley Marlow and Maz Mace). Once briefed by amiable DOC staff, we trek upward through beautiful bush at dusk to the Quarantine Station in the wake of Stephano, Ferdinand, Trinculo and the Boatswain, who has ostensibly navigated us through the ‘storm’ to relative safety on this isle.  

It is the Boatwain (Mike Ness, fresh from playing Comminius the Consul of Corioles in Coriolanus), who installs us down one side of a very long room, facing the pens once used to quarantine exotic fauna. Here a pensive Prospero awaits the inevitable eruption of his naïve daughter Miranda at the sudden arrival of all these strange creatures.

Scott Ransom opts for being the still centre of the turmoil his Prospero has set in motion while Claire O’Loughlin delights in fully expressing Miranda’s fear-tinged excitement at seeing humans who are not her father, or herself in a mirror. She was three, after all, when they were expelled from Wellington.

Miranda’s unalloyed attraction to Jordan Rivers’ likewise innocent yet obviously intelligent Ferdinand and their blossoming love, are a delight to behold.

Erin Howell’s Ariel is majestically spritely and poignantly devoted to Prospero despite desiring her liberty. She presides over mischief with focused pleasure.

Also clad in body paint and a rough skin costume from which pustules erupt (costume & set design: Helle Rosenberg and Olive Moynihan), Matt Clayton finds an affecting pathos in the so-called savage, Caliban.

We repair to a courtyard – also surreptitiously lit by Marcus McShane – for the drunken shenanigans that precede the come-uppance in store for Stephano, well accounted for by Giles McNeil.

Wiremu Tuhiwai takes the most wicked textual liberties as Trinculo, provoking all the laughs he should as the opinionated clown. And the status games between these dubious men when Caliban aligns with them are well pitched.  

I cannot say, however, that there ever seemed to be any credible threat to Prospero’s life from this trio, which weakens the imperatives driving the plot somewhat.

Nevertheless, as directed by Paul Stephanus with a light but sure touch, this irreverent adaption cuts to the essence of a tale wherein the supposed superiority of class-infected ‘civilisation’ is exposed by natural – and supernatural – forces.

While Ariel represents natural energy corralled into the service of man, Caliban resonates as an indigene subjugated by colonisers. The backstory of his attempted rape of Miranda, in order to people the isle with his progeny, remains and gives valid substance to the antipathy she and her father feel towards him.

But at the end – in a departure from the original – in the process of giving Caliban his liberty, Prospero seems to give “this misshapen knave” the opportunity to take his revenge for the servitude he has been subjected to. Through having the choice Caliban chooses not to hurt Prospero; through offering the choice, Prospero liberates himself as well. I think they have drawn on Prospero’s epilogue for the self-effacing dialogue here.

Then for an epilogue Propsero offers what used to end the now off-stage wedding scene: “Our revels now are ended … We are such stuff / As dreams are made on.” Clever.

While A Tempest Off Matiu-Somes Island may seem like a frolic at the fringes of Shakespeare’s complex drama, it leaves me feeling Bard Productions have extracted a through-provoking essence from that storm’s centre.

As a bonus, we get to enjoy a truly magical stroll back down the hill under a crisply starlit sky with a sparkling view Wellington, Petone, the Hutt valley and Eastbourne. Happy, then, to relegate the titular tempest to our imaginations. 


John Smythe February 8th, 2013

Much gratitude to eagle-eyed Rebecca Parker who picked up my error (now corrected). It was, of course, Miranda (not Ariel) with whom Caliban fancied forcibly establishing his dynasty on the island. 

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