The Tempest

If you’re going to combine theatre with acrobatics, you really need to be good at both. Backhand Theatre are good at acrobatics.The storm sequence (though if you don’t know the play you might not guess that’s what it is) which opens the play is exciting and atmospheric, though I don’t see any good reason why it couldn’t have been combined with the text from the first scene. However, these opening minutes are the highlight of the play, whose pace and intensity lulls awfully between the three acrobatic setpieces. The other three quarters of a play seem boring and perfunctory, a mere excuse for those ten acrobatic minutes, and as such this play is impossible really to praise in any wholehearted way.It’s something of a horrible criticism to make, but the overbearing impression from hearing the actors deliver their lines is that they aren’t really sure what they mean, or at least how to convince their audience that they are. Protestations of love, hatred and surprise are made in the exact same ‘I’m reading verse now’ tone which smothers Shakespeare’s artfully variegated language underneath.They aren’t helped by a script which appears to have been prepared by a blindfolded man overfond of the delete key. Trinculo and Stephano are cut (surely a missed opportunity for drunken acrobatic sequences), though Caliban is left danging for no good reason, given 15 lines of uncontextualised speech from a different scene. Gonzalo appears in one scene and never comes back. None of these is a ruinous criticism in itself, but each does reveal a cavalier attitude to the text which severely compromises the audience’s engagement with the inevitably confused lines which escape the knife.With a more considered approach, combining The Tempest with acrobatic performance could be a really wonderful way to bring out the, quite literal, magic of Shakespeare’s work, but this, unfortunately, is a very long way away from that kind of brilliance.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Enchanting puppetry and beautiful gymnastics recreate Shakespeare's timeless story in Backhand's distinctive circus-theatre style. Tradition turned upside-down and flown around: an expressive combination of performance, poetry and spectacle. 'Truly dazzling' ***** (BroadwayBaby.com, Backhand Theatre 2010). www.backhandtheatre.com

Most Popular See More

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets