The Tempest – The Handlebards
The Bally, Gluttony
By Sarah List
Right out I have to say this is one of the most riotous performances I’ve ever been to, led by four of the most energetic and vibrant artists on stage.
I was familiar with The Tempest as one of the classic Shakespeare plays we studied in school. Although I always found the faithful performances of Shakespeare’s work pretty uptight, the Handlebards brief intrigued me and hoped it would be one of those out of leftfield shows that put a new spin on a traditional work.
On the whole, the play itself was very traditional, but in the delivery and staging laid the difference. Looking like four adult aged school children in shorts, business shirts and long socks, Roisin Brehony, Lucy Green, Tika Mu’tamir and Katie Sherrard performed each and every character in the play frenetically, with occasional audience assistance. The set and costumes looked exactly as you’d imagine if four energetic kids on school holidays would pull together when they decided with enthusiasm that they’d put on a show for their parents. A red and white striped backdrop with window bind opening provided cover for quick (and hilarious) costume changes and character interactions, and the cast used the whole tent plus the external environment at times to bring to life the play. Bicycle helmets became misshapen heads with stringy hair (Caliban) while a fishing net and scallop shells formed the slinky seafaring negligee of Miranda. Caliban’s Trump-like tiny hands were both creepy and captivating and almost stole the show every time they appeared. The deliberately overplayed ham-factor of the characters just added to the ridiculousness of the performance, and added another level of humour to a play that’s already well known for it.
Even if you’re not au fait with the work of the Bard, this is a short, sharp and shiny performance with vibrant characters and much to be amused by.