Last night myself, hubby and some friends attended a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest held in the impressive venue of our Kidwelly Castle
Look familiar? It’s the castle used in the opening of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Yes, your mother is a hamster and your father does indeed smell of elderberries.
I wasn’t sure what to expect; the castle is a ruin but features large open areas within the outer curtain wall, and within the inner courtyard… Would they have a small stage set up? A marquee?
The weather was forecasted as “decidedly unsuitable for theatrical performances held in a castle sans roof”, but social media reassured us that the performance would indeed be going ahead.
So, we decided to prepare ourselves. Camping chairs, rain ponchos, golf umbrellas. Our friends were fully bedecked in waterproofs and even had a flask of hot chocolate. Other friend brought pims in a can.
Judge of that what you will.
It’s safe to say that the performance was not at all what I was expecting; say instead it completely exceeded it.
We were greeted by the “Island Studios” film crew, and we would be given tours of their sets as they filmed The Tempest. We gathered around The Director/Prospero, who made light of the permeating weather and Cadw’s (moving and noisy) dragon installment; we were told we’d be moving around to different areas of the castle, and we were introduced to the players.
It was intimate; we were literally stood gathered in front of the performance – the fourth wall was no where to be seen as audience participation was actively encouraged.
Kim being crooned to by Ariel, much to the jealousy of some; and my husband Ken dancing with Trinculo
According to their Facebook page, Taking Flight “is a theatre company based in Wales, working with physically disabled, sensory impaired and non disabled professional actors to create accessible theatre and film projects”. They are “Working to break down barriers to participation in The Arts. Creating integrated professional productions and an extensive outreach programme.”
I believe they accomplished this in a very creative and clever manner; their BSL interpreter was incorporated as a character within the performance, rather than simply being stood to one side apart from proceedings. Miranda signed throughout her role, and a separate character played her “voice”.
The actors were all very talented and proficient in their roles, many doubling as other characters and playing instruments. I particularly loved that many of the soliloquies were performed as songs, effective at maintaining your attention when you’re on your feet and creating wonderful atmosphere and tone.
In short, this performance was inspired, immersive, immensely funny. Despite the rain persisting it down, they remained professional, their energy and enthusiasm infusing us all.
I couldn’t recommend them highly enough, and I eagerly await both their return to Kidwelly or an opportunity to see them elsewhere.