The Tempest

The Tempest

Ludlow Brewery
July 2015

The Tempest was a highly rewarding production in which a challenging play was revealed in the journeys of the characters and ourselves as actors, discovering the dynamism and texture in the relationships and the language. The feedback was stunning from an audience who were transported too by a production of which we are very proud.

“An extraordinary production of The Tempest... the phrase that occurs to me is 'freshly reimagined', but that doesn't tell the half of it.”
Steve Griffiths, poet and audience member

“Another Rooftop Theatre gem”
Prue Britten in the Ludlow Ledger

See full reviews below.


Morgan Rees-Davies
Daniel Wilby
Ian Seddon
Eleanor Painter
Johnny Ostle
Charmian Ingham
Ewan Gibb
Peter Gillham
David Scotswood
Paul Sayers
Simon Bolton
Elizabeth Howard
Simon Bolton
Producer/ Assistant director
Paul Sayers
Deputy stage manager
Kate Farmer
Lighting and sound
Wild Edric Media
Original music
Steve Dunachie

Review 1

“An extraordinary production of The Tempest on the Ludlow Fringe, Ludlow Brewery. The phrase that occurs to me is 'freshly reimagined', but that doesn't tell the half of it. The mixture of professional and amateur actors really understand how the verse moves: they are plugged in to how Shakespeare can sound natural and contemporary, making it more accessible, and the poetry more vivid and penetrative.

The production had a rhythm, overseen by a superb Prospero (Morgan Rees-Davies) who moved from harshness to forgiveness in the very essence of a last play performance, stepping up by stepping down with a profound grace. They'd worked on relationships: particularly touching were Prospero and Ariel (Daniel Wilby, again superb) and Ferdinand and Miranda, but what plays through the mind afterwards is the stunning comic trio of Caliban (Ian Seddon – unbelievably an amateur, a great performance), and Directors Paul Sayers and Simon Bolton as Trinculo and Stephano: the humour and pathos won't be forgotten, and the wielding of Shakespeare's language as an immediate instrument. Every scene worked on exhaustively and freshly – what an achievement. The audience loved it. Roll on next year's Fringe.”

Steve Griffiths, poet

Review 2

“At face value The Tempest is a tale of sorcery, romance, parental love and forgiveness. It is not without its pitfalls and Messrs Bolton and Sayers (Director/Producer) have side-stepped them neatly in this bright and thoughtful production.

The opening scene of the shipwreck was something of a disappointment, being neither audible nor conveying the terror of those involved. Swaying about with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth really didn't work. Happily this was quickly overcome in the second scene with Prospero (the talented and impressive Morgan Rees-Davies) and his daughter Miranda (Eleanor Painter). In Rees-Davies we have an actor totally at home with Shakespearean dialogue while understanding the importance of a gentle pace and stillness, in his explanation of his dealings with both his enemies and with his much-loved daughter. Eleanor Painter may well become a very fine actor. She clearly understands the Shakespearean narrative and purpose but her slightly declamatory style and diction was more akin to a 1930's movie than to suitable story-telling required by audiences of the twenty first century.

Daniel Wilby as Ariel is a most welcome addition to Rooftop Theatre Company. He is fleet of foot, light of touch and with an endearing, mellifluous voice. He recounts the magical aspect of his history with purpose, pace and vigour. He is an excellent fine, loving and obedient counterpart to Caliban (Ian Seddon), who is initially seen as an unsympathetic character, being a hideous, deformed, cursing and much despised creature.

The drunken scene with Caliban, Stephano (Simon Bolton) and Trinculo (Paul Sayers) brought us physical and verbal comedy with a lightness of touch to be much admired. The audience understood it and laughed. The sandals with the red socks were a joy. Here are three actors with total command both of Shakespearean language, his comedic meaning, coupled with a twenty-first century understanding of wit and pace.

Finally, inevitably, all the loose ends are tied up – happy couples, brothers, sons and parents are reunited and past faults are forgiven, leaving us with Prospero and Ariel, the two truly magical characters. With kindness, humour, gentleness and not a little regret, Prospero sets Ariel free. This leaves us with Prospero – the original magician – for the epilogue. He asks us, the audience, 'to release me from my bands'. Morgan Rees-Davies's was a great performance and we do so willingly. The applause is long, loud and certain.

Another Rooftop Theatre gem. Ludlow is fortunate, grateful and needs to support this company in every way.”

Prue Britten, Ludlow Ledger

Review 3

“The opening night of Rooftop Theatre Company's production of The Tempest was another outstanding success and proves again how lucky Ludlow is to have quality Shakespeare in our midst and delivered by such undeniably talented local actors.

The performance space at Ludlow Brewery is transformed innovatively and simply by a circle of AstroTurf into Prospero's and Miranda's enchanted isle – and the story unfolds on and around it.

Morgan Rees‐Davies's Prospero is a stunning mix of power, aggression and anger just under the surface, perception and tenderness – and perhaps just a hint of something more in his relationship with Miranda. A thought‐provoking interpretation and deeply moving at the close of the play when he resumes his rightful place as King of Milan at the cost of losing his magic, his enchanted isle and his daughter to Ferdinand. Ariel's seamless assumption of that magic as he takes Propsero's staff – a symbol of his freedom – is brilliant and Daniel Wilby is, throughout, a brilliant and believable Ariel.

Eleanor Painter brings to her Miranda an understanding of a girl on the cusp of adolescence with the whole wonderful world of womanhood just within her reach. She doesn't need her father's staff to see the magic awaiting her and her amazement at a ‘brave new world’ peopled, suddenly, by more men than she has ever seen, let alone Ferdinand, infects the audience so they, too, are amazed. And Johnny Ostle's Ferdinand has that gauche adolescent innocence which boys down the centuries have tried to disguise – rarely successfully – which carries the audience across the unlikely bridge of instantaneous love at first sight!

The whole production is magical without being overdone. The darkness within Shakespeare's text is there with both Ariel and Caliban (played excellently by Ian Seddon) but so is the humour.”

Diane Lyle, Friends of Ludlow Arts


Photos By Catherine Evans of Celebrations in Focus.

Next Production

The Memory Garden

A tender and raucous trip back into Ludlow's recent past.

In the Secret Garden behind the Castle Bookshop, 5 Castle Street, Ludlow, SY8 1AS

Friday 22nd, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July at 7.00pm.

Tickets £10 — reserve them by calling at the bookshop, phoning them on 01584 872562, or emailing

The Memory Garden
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