For their first production of the year Westville Boys High School’s Drama Department has crafted a rumbustious, very credible and enjoyable version of William Shakespeare’s great tale of revenge and reconciliation, The Tempest.
The director of the production, Luke Holder, who is charge of Cultural Affairs at the School and who is responsible for the school’s outstanding drama output, has taken a large cast of 26 young people, whose average age is 15, and in three weeks created a production of which all involved can be very proud.
The Tempest which starts with a dramatic storm at sea and shipwreck certainly offers a variety of elements. It is a love story, a tale of betrayal and a manifestation of magic arts and sorcery. There is comedy and drama, ill-treated slaves, mystical spirits and strange creatures and it all takes place on a sinister island.
Plenty for the cast to get their teeth into and have fun with. This they certainly do. All throw themselves into their roles with gusto and enthusiasm. There is the occasional problem with articulation, which along with the Shakespearean English can make the dialogue hard to follow. However, the whole-hearted performances more than make up for it, and the result is quite inspiring.
While the overall standard of performance is very good, there are two performers who deserve special mention. Pierre Parrott as Prospero, who is the pivotal character in the play, is excellent. He is an accomplished young actor. He has been starring in WBHS productions for a few years now and has never produced anything short of an excellent performance. Be it a musical, drama or comedy. A young man with a big future on the stage, should he choose that as a career path.
However, for me the star of this production of The Tempest was Cameron Moodie as Ariel, the playful water sprite. This tall, slim young man obviously has a background in dance or gymnastics and he used these silky flexible skills to glide around the stage like a wisp of smoke. He also delivered his lines with aplomb. A beautiful performance all round.
As is usual with a Luke Holder production, the technical backbone of the show, such as sound, lighting and set, was of a professional standard. Giving his young actors the best possible canvas to express themselves.
Also, being a Luke Holder production, one should expect a bit of innovation. On this occasion a pool filled with water, which represented the sea, and into which Ariel and the other spirits plunged into and splashed about on a regular basis. Splashing copious amounts of water about the stage. Excellent fun.
WBHS continues to impress with their productions in the school’s Roy Cousins Theatre. It is sometimes difficult to get tickets such is the support from parents and the local community, but it is well worth the try. You won’t be disappointed. Keep an eye on the school’s webpage, www.wbhs.co.za, for up-coming productions. – Keith Millar