The Tempest

Hawke Sea Scout Hall, Cox's Bay, Auckland

01/02/2008 - 23/02/2008

Production Details

The isle is full of noises…

An island in the middle of nowhere. Prospero and his daughter have been stranded for 12 years and he is now an expert in ancient magic. When a ship full of his old enemies appears he will stop at nothing to wreak his revenge – while trying to preserve the next generation from their terrible history.

Shakespeare’s final nautical comedy is brought to you this summer in an 80-year-old sea scout hall just 10 minutes drive from Auckland’s city centre.

Peripeteia (Cymbeline @ The Dogs Bollix and Silo) return with another flip-a-coin production which promises unpredictability, laughter, tears, and a top-quality night out. Arrive early, cast the play and be part of a truly unique performance – no night is the same!

"This is theatre the way Shakespeare intended it" – Imogen Neale, The Lumiere Reader

The Hawke Sea Scout Hall
West End Road
Cox’s Bay (opposite Cox’s Bay Park)

1st – 23rd February

Tuesday – Saturday @ 8pm
Sundays @ 5pm

*no performances Mondays or Thursday 14th & 21st

Tickets $20 full /$15 concession or group 6+

phone: 09 378 7878


Arthur Meek (The Hollow Men)
Madeleine Hyland (Cymbeline, Othello)
Trygve Wakenshaw (The Magic Chicken, The Mystery of Irma Vep)
Brooke Williams (The Crucible)
Jacob Tamaiparea (Taki Rua)
Colleen Davis (Angels in America)
Daniel Mainwaring (Cymbeline)
Frank Brown (The God Boy)
Kate Simmonds (Rumplestilts)
Laurel Devenie (Chapman Tripp Nominee for The Graduate)
Stuart Devenie (Hatch)
and Sylvia Rands (Such Sweet Thunder)

Innovative exciting theatre ahoy!

Review by Nik Smythe 07th Feb 2008

The staging of this nautical tale by the sea at twilight in the maritime trappings of the Cox’s Bay Sea Scout Hall is nothing short of inspired, right down to the sax player serenading the setting sun as the audience settles. Decked out with beer crates and tea chests for tables and chairs, assorted chimes and screeds of white muslin, the audience is placed not so much in the round as right in amongst it all.

Famously his last work and supposed by many to be autobiographical, the Tempest must surely be Shakespeare’s darkest comedy.  A royal contingent are shipwrecked on a remote island, by the magical powers of Prospero, who inhabits the island with his daughter Miranda, his deformed slave Caliban, and Ariel, an ethereal spirit who at Prospero’s command scatters the ship’s passengers and crew  about the island.

It becomes apparent that Alonso the king of Naples and Prospero’s own brother Antonio were originally responsible for Prospero’s residence on the island, having 12 years earlier connived to depose him from his rightful position as Duke of Milan.  With Ariel’s help, Prospero exacts some revenge by way of a range of sadistic pranks against his traitorous enemies. 

Meanwhile the pure young Miranda meets the gallant Prince Ferdinand and they fall in love, while elsewhere on the island Caliban teams up with Trinculo the jester and Stephano the drunken butler and they plot to overthrow Prospero.  These and other devious plots culminate in a rude awakening at Prospero’s hand and justice is ultimately restored.

One of the tricky things about reviewing any theatre is that no two nights are ever precisely the same.  Peripetia’s Tempest compounds that issue by having a differently arranged cast every night.  Each actor shares two roles with another; who plays which is determined by coin tosses ten minutes before the play begins.

Thus, probably, no two performances are the same.  So, as well as appreciating many of the turns in this Waitangi Day performance, I’m left intrigued as to how each character’s counterpart would have handled the role, and how the various relationships might play out between different combinations. [If you have witnessed a different configuration please tell us about it via ‘post a comment’ at the end of this review. Also read Shannon Huse’s NZ Herald review – link below.]

Sylvia Rands’ Prospero appropriately commands the space with serious philosophical compassion.  As Miranda, the story’s only definite female, Daniel Mainwaring presents a rather stereotypical fragile damsel in falsetto, a bit on the whiney side.  Though to be fair, he thankfully doesn’t attempt to make the comedy meal of his drag act that others might be tempted to. 

Caliban the filthy grotesque is strongly expressed through Colleen Davis’s gruff portrayal.  Brooke Williams as Ariel, face and torso shrouded in translucent muslin, is ghostly and compelling; a theatrical triumph combining her vocal capabilities, nimble athleticism, and an ingenious series of white-sheet hammocks strung across the hall’s rafters by which the loyal spirit travels.

In the ship’s party, Alonso King of Naples is played altogether perfunctorily by Jacob Tamaiparea.  Stuart Devenie convincingly evokes the harrowing journey of Alonso’s  counselor Gonzalo as his voice of reason is tested to the limit.  Madeleine Hyland’s villainous Antonio teams up with Laurel Devenie’s Sebastian (Alonso’s brother), playing it like a vaudeville double act, although with appreciably subtle class.  Kate Simmonds covers a few smaller parts, not least the salty hard-bitten ship’s master, the kind of old bugger you’d want commanding your ship in a violent storm.

Romantic lead Prince Ferdinand (Arthur Meek) is handsome, dignified and truly romantic without being mawkish as he woos Miranda with heartfelt poetry, and her protective father with unbending loyalty that he may give them his blessing to wed. 

As in many Shakespeares the comic relief characters are major highlights.  Frank Brown’s opportunistic butler Stephano is simply hilarious as he delivers his sardonic drunken British wit with the classic stiff upper lip.  The irrepressible Trygve Wakenshaw (who also lends his shadow puppetry skills to the amusingly presented tale of Isis and Ceres), charms in his role as gangly French jester Trinculo, and even had audience members laughing their heads off as he swept the stage clean during the interval with his unsurpassed slapstick abilities.

Unfortunately I managed to lose my programme, so cannot recall which actors share the performances I saw.  I do recall the only credits were the cast, and a list of acknowledgments; no director or designer credits, which indicates to me the acting company have put it all together themselves.  Tailored for multiple viewings, Peripieteia’s The Tempest is innovative and exciting theatre.  Bravo!  
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


Katrina February 21st, 2008

I saw Brooke as Trinculo, Trygve as Ariel, Stuart as Prospero and Sylvia as Gonzalo. Trygve was quite amazing when at one point he fell/dropped out of the ceiling straight to the floor with brilliant skill and timing, missing crashing to the ground by mere centimetres - very exciting! Brooke was a fabulous wee puff-cheeked fool with an excellent mix of whiny, whimsy and comic, Stuart was an inscrutable, unapologetic Prospero and Sylvia was a compassionate Gonzalo. I think the rest of the characters were the same as the night you saw them Nik and of course all very good, I congratulate the entire company on their highly enjoyable and successful (I believe they are sold out and have had to turn people away but don't let that stop you trying to get a ticket) production and look forward to seeing more work from Peripitea.

nik smythe February 21st, 2008

thanks for your observation on the angels Michael. i maintain that for a self-directed piece the production is outstanding. i share your desire to witness Stuart's Prospero and Trygve's Ariel, since i can almost imagine what they'd be like, and am also very curious about how their counterparts Sylvia and Brooke carry the roles of Gonzalo and Trinculo.

Michael Wray February 21st, 2008

The performance I saw featured Sylvia Rand as Prospero, Brooke Williams as Ariel, Laurel Devenie as Miranda, Jacob Tamaiparea as Caliban, Colleen Davis as Alonso, Daniel Mainwaring as Sebastian, Arthur Meek as Ferdinand, Madeleine Hyland as Antonio, Stuart Devenie as Gonzalo, Trygve Wakenshaw as Trinculo, Kate Simmonds as Stephano/Boatswain/Fransisco, Frank Brown as Master/Adrian. Where any performer was on a streak of three consecutive shows in the same part, the coin toss was dispensed with. Instead, the performer was given a change of roles. We had about three of those. I came away thinking that I had probably seen the best mix of role assignments, though if I could I'd go again and hope to see what Stuart would be like as Prospero and Trygve as Ariel. I saw this company's Silo production of Cymbeline last year. I enjoyed that, but this is a much stronger production. Sylvia Rands was absolutely superb and brought a presence that was missing from Cymbeline. The physicality of Brooke Williams' Ariel was very impressive. When she first descends from the rafters, it's like witnessing one of the circus-dance acts in the International Arts Festival. I bet it was hot in that costume though. Nik - there was one credit in the programme for design. Simon Coleman is described as the designer angel (alongside Nick the carpenter angel). There is no directorial credit given.

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Passion and talent vie with length and distractions

Review by Shannon Huse 07th Feb 2008

In a charming little boat shed on stilts a troupe of Shakespearean players are wrestling with his "revenge comedy" – The Tempest

They put up a good fight taking a traditional yet fresh approach to the play. With the smell of sea on the air and the sun setting outside the venue provides a perfect briny atmosphere. Many magic moments are created as the players plot revenge, fall in love, fool around and right historic wrongs. 

But over the course of 2 1/2 hours the big play beats them. It’s too long, too dense and without the crowd-pleasing speeches of Shakespeare’s other great plays, the players are lost in a seas of words like little corks on a stormy sea. [More]  


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