Last year we went to the Maltings to see Romeo and Juliet performed by the seemingly indefatigable HandleBards. Four actors, quick changes of props and costume and two hours of complete fun wrapped in Elizabethan verse. Shakespeare never seemed quite the same again.
Tonight, because we loved it so much last year, we were booked into seeing their 2019 touring production of The Tempest.
The only problem was the weather. The HandleBards work outside and, throughout the day, the weather came and went, sometimes storm and torrential rain, othertimes grey but dry. Yesterday I’d had an email saying the show would go on regardless though they did have an inside space if a real tempest required it.
Today, while washing floors and doing laundry, I watched the weather, regularly texting Mirinda (who was at a conference being mobbed by adoring fans) with reports. It was my reports that would decide whether she stayed in town or came home for the show.
By 3pm I decided she should come home so I reported the day had completely cleared up, the sun was blazing and it was just like Fiji. She texted back saying we’d meet at the Maltings.
Given the unusual circumstances, I decided to leave a little bit early and eat at Sushi Jun as I would be walking passed and didn’t feel like making dinner for myself.
I’m glad to say that Sushi Jun seems to be flourishing. All the tables were booked and I was offered the bar for dinner. This was fine and made me feel just like a Tokyo businessman on the way home after work. This feeling increased when a second solo man entered and sat at the bar just down from me.
The food was fabulous though I was rather disappointed to find that they have stopped making ramen (** sad face emoticon **). Ignoring that, the pork gyoza and sashimi selection were both delicious, particularly when washed down with an icy cold sake.
Then it was on to the Maltings for the purpose of our night out. Actually, I hadn’t been outside the house all day (except to put rubbish in the bins) because of the weather so going to the theatre (sort of) made up for it.
Shortly before I left the house, I had a second email saying:
Sadly the weather has defeated us, the 7.30pm performance of The HandleBards The Tempest will take place today indoors in the Tindle Studio. Expect usual HandleBards style, riotous energy and a great deal of laughter!
It made me wonder what had happened at the matinee.
So, upstairs I went and met an unusually impatient Mirinda to take our seats in the front row and wait for the fun to begin.
And it was excellent. The four actors (Ellice Stevens, Katie Sherrard, Roisin Brehony and Tika Mu’Tamir) were superb not to mention the five audience members who stood in for various characters along the way. Excepting Ron (or Rob), who played himself for the card trick. A special mention for Rachel who played about 15 characters at the end with great skill and fortitude.
On the way home I said to Mirinda that, in a complete departure from my previous life, I actually really like Shakespeare these days. She said it was because I understood the language now and I hadn’t before. I think she’s right because it all made perfect sense to me. And I’m still convinced that, overall, The Tempest is a comedy.
It’s also about colonisation (though not sure if Shakespeare realised it at the time of writing) and the sad lives of both Calaban and Ariel. These two characters are the leads in the serious side of the play…as far as I’m concerned.
All in all, an absolute delight of a night. Now we just need to wait for next year.