Drumbeats pound, the rain whirls across the lush green landscape and shadow-figures crouch by foreboding trees.
Director Toby Pitts-Tucker has decided to stage a journey around the gardens, inviting the audience to delve deeper into the drama by walking from scene to scene. This involves the audience in the play itself, as there is no separate stage and the action takes place all around them.
This drama-on-your-doorstep thing is quite fun, but sometimes oversteps the mark. At one point the powdered-white face of a nymph appeared before me, eyes gleaming; a little too close for comfort.
Pitts-Tucker’s production transforms Worcester’s gardens into a dreamworld of magic and spirits; drumbeats and eery singing abound, while half-animal creatures prowl the landscape. My British sense of decency may have been offended by the giggling drunken Trinculo (played by Sarah Cook), but my sense of excitement was piqued.
Ariel (Maanas Jain), whizzes around like a whirling dervish performing Prospero’s wishes. Meanwhile Caliban (Sam Kennedy), makes audiences recoil with his half-human splutters and dribbles. At the centre is Prospero, portrayed as a tyrant by Colin Burnie.
What of the lovers, Miranda and Ferdinand? Instead of a stormy romance we have little more than a teenage crush. But this play is full of spells and curses, and Toby Pitts-Tucker’s cast has made it as powerful and enchanting as any one of them.