With a title like that, you may very well think I am set to write about the buffeting blasts that beset many of us at the beginning of the week and brought many parts of the locality to a standstill. Or maybe, on a personal level, it could very well serve as a title for the hurricane of domestic improvement that swept through my flat yesterday spearheaded by our very own Gill. But, as you have no doubt guessed from the photos, it is neither of those and is in actual fact this week’s delve into the archives and the first reflections on one of the jewels in the Matchbox crown, the Normanhurst Festival. Now I will not go much into the actual festival itself, its history or what plans are afoot for its future, that will be saved for a special sometime in 2014 when there will hopefully be more news regarding the latter of those points, but with the weather getting a little more turbulent- though it is somewhat peaceful today- and with Halloween, the time of spirits and the supernatural nigh upon us, what better time to look at ‘The Tempest’
Directed collaboratively by Pat Williams and John Mackintosh, this was the eighth of our biennial open air performances of Shakespeare, way back in 2008. As has been customary with previous performances of the Bard’s work, all the stops were pulled out in terms of production values, cast, costume, make up and effects, with the lawn at varying points turned into a storm tossed sea, caves, mysterious grottos and groves haunted by sprites and sea spirits. Indeed, quite a contrast to our most recent dip into Shakespeare last year, but that is a different story…
Drawing on Matchbox members young and old, with faces familiar and new -this was Rosanna Grimes’ and James Mercer’s debut if I recall correctly – it proved a play both breath-taking in its spectacle and compelling in its mixture of the comic and the dramatic with a blend of ghastly intrigue and treachery and more than a fistful of belly laughs provided by the marvellous double act of Gill and Jerry Moore as Stephano and Trinculo cheating my Caliban. That was a role I truly relished playing and, trite or cliché as it sounds, I certainly felt something magical in the air in the twilight whilst I delivered the ‘Be not afeard..’ speech. Then again, that is probably the filters of dewy eyes nostalgia working overtime again, but isn’t that part of its magic?
Of course any reflection on this marvellous play must pay tribute to Tim’s incredible rendering of Prospero, a genuinely winning portrayal- engaging, cruel, commanding and compelling; a true triumph and tour de force of acting. I am sure he wonders what happened as he now spends his rehearsals reciting desperately, hopping nautically, flying heroically, staring fixedly and riding stick horses fanatically. But that is a story of things yet to come. Thus I will leave you with the memories of a balmy summer and a wonderful weekend of theatre from the past. Stay tuned, as I will be publishing exclusive a sneak preview of ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’ promo poster as well as further information on the forthcoming ‘Accrington Pals’ auditions in the next couple of days Until then, take care. And as always, if you have any memories or thoughts about this production, or any that we have done, feel free to contribute.
All the best