Shakespeare and sci-fi make strange bedfellows, but when the 2 collide with the vibrant energy of Tamworth Arts Club in Return to the Forbidden Planet the genres come together to make a thoroughly entertaining show, packed with toe-tapping rock and roll numbers.
The story is loosely based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’and the 1950’s science fiction film ‘Forbidden Planet’ - which was also based on the bard’s masterpiece. A regular survey mission under the command of the dashing Captain Tempest (Adam Gregory) is pulled into a remote planet by a tractor beam. When they land they come across the “mad” Doctor Prospero (James Gorton) who was sent into hyperspace by his evil wife Gloria after working late one night in his laboratory on his mystery formula, “X”. They are introduced to Miranda (Stacey Ward), Prospero’s daughter, who was unwittingly sent into pace with her father. Both Captain Tempest and the ships cook, Cookie (Conner Brooks) fall for the beautiful Miranda and compete to win her affections. The crew come under attack from a gigantic alien.
During the attack, the ship’s missing science officer reappears at the airlock, and in order to save her, the captain orders it open, allowing the monster’s giant tentacles to penetrate and damage the ship’s hull. The science officer is revealed to be none other than Gloria (Nik Ellis), Prospero’s wife.
Act 2 opens with the ship still under attack from the giant alien, which is finally repulsed thanks to Prospero’s faithful android, Ariel. Gloria vows revenge on her husband by persuading Cookie to steal the formula X in return for advice on winning over Miranda. The monster reappears and is eventually revealed as a manifestation of Prospero’s Id, or subconscious mind, thanks to Formula x and he sacrifices himself to save the crew. As the planet was also created by Prospero’s Id it begins to self-destruct. The crew escape and Tempest flies off with Miranda as his bride.
With the story conveyed entirely in Iambic Pentameter, you may have expected some of the dialogue to be quite laboured but the talented actors were more than able to convey the comedy at the heart of the show. There were extracts from a number of Shakespeare’s plays, some of which were lovingly changed to suit a space adventure (“2 beeps or not 2 beeps”). Many of the principals, Gregory and Gorton in particular, had flawless delivery and had clearly tackled Shakespeare before.
The vocals were very strong throughout, with Gregory and Gorton once again shining. Stacey Ward was also very convincing as Miranda and solos were all well sung. The ensemble numbers really brought the show to life with their tremendous energy and tight choreography. The only negative was the brevity of the show’s sole tap number which showcased the talent of some of the company’s young dancers. The band were also excellent, with guitarist Jonathan Hood giving a great solo in the first half.
All in all, this was a very funny show, packed with Shakespeare and Sci-Fi references which will leave you counting how many you got. The company were energetic all night and the rousing medley of hits at the end will have you singing as you blast off all the way back home.
Return to the Forbidden Planet runs from 29 March – 2 April.
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