Our annual Senior School play took the Norwich Puppet Theatre by storm on 14th-15th March.

Jenny Richards, our talented Director of Drama, told us how Hethersett Old Hall School’s performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ came to fruition.

‘When Mr Crump first asked me to direct The Tempest as the school play, I was filled with much trepidation. The Tempest is the last of Shakespeare’s plays with a difficult and puzzling lead character in Prospero, an old man. Indeed there is only one female part in the whole play! How was I going to make Shakespeare’s complex work appeal to a group of students and hopefully an audience of their parents and friends?

‘So I decided to take extreme liberties with the text and cut it substantially. I made nearly all the characters female. I changed Prospero’s interest in magic to science (although we do have a bit of artistic magic thrown in) and set this production initially in space instead of on a boat.

‘I changed the period and set it in the 1950s where science was breaking new grounds and women were making rapid advances in the aftermath of the World Wars. I made Caliban a bad influence instead of a sexual predator and introduced rock and roll music.’

The result was a resounding success, if the reaction of the two enthusiastic audiences was anything to go by! Once again, Mrs Richards and our senior girls produced something original, fresh and thoroughly entertaining.  The following review is by Mrs Young.

“Smoke billowed from the wings; the test tubes and flasks were firmly clamped and we were ready to be transported to a “brave new world”.

Prospera, played with a stately grace by Rebekah Oelrichs, was our ever-present and all-powerful pilot who beamed up an explosive opening scene. As she explained to her daughter Miranda (an exquisitely pure Megan Groom in her little white dress) why she had wrecked the ship on the island, the audience fell under her spell.

Prospera was aided by her highly motivated class of amazing Ariels. They all put their hands up to answer questions and arrived promptly on stage with all their clipboards at the ready: an ideal class to teach. (However, there was a moral for us teachers; we do have to set them free at the end!) Holly Barrett and Olivia Mozumder often took the lead as their spirit sisters, with their immaculate hairdos, beautiful skirts and jaunty scarves – twirled, sang and shimmied through their magical tasks, which ranged from setting the table to brilliant mimicry.

Another of Prospera’s followers, who abetted rather than aided her, was Yasmin Cheshem-Panam’s Caliban. Suffering from a truly volcanic bad hair day, Caliban was at the heart of the comic scenes. She was corrupted not only by Stephana’s big personality (played with magnificent gusto by Daniele Marte) but also by her never-empty bottle. Stephana’s partner in one-liners was the King of Comedy himself, Trinculo (aka Amber Batten). Together, they created a hilarious trio of greed, drunkenness and vanity, as they shivered under umbrellas, plotted a revolution and, as well as being “all shook up”, got all tied up.

We “cried to dream again” following the wedding scene between Ferdinand (played by our very own teddy boy, Kelsey Borrer) and Miranda. Such a lot of eyelash-fluttering, smiling and warbling from Erica Nunney, Trixie Duffin and Danielle Mallam-Birks was guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye. The floral tributes were divine!

But what of the other reluctant visitors to the island? Alonsa, played with regal poise by Bridget Holmes, was comforted throughout by the kindly Gonzala. Laura Tudge interpreted the role as a patient and loving nanny. However, Gonzala’s efforts as a human comfort blanket were despised by the malicious, scheming and sneering Antonia and Sebastia: parts played with chilling menace by Rebecca Hazell and Letitia Gaskin.

Not only was Prospera a storm-raising expert but her culinary skill was showcased spectacularly in the diner scene when Faron Young (Ariel turned Marilyn) became the most elegant raising agent ever. Her message to the travellers from Tunis was to reflect on their sins and repent – which just goes to show that you can’t always have your cake and eat it!

Thanks to the technical wizardry of Miss Mann and Sophie Beart the evening was full of toe-tappin’ “strange noises and sweet airs” and alien visions. It was an evening full of wrong-doing and reparation, of loyalty and betrayal, of imprisonment and liberty, of soaring poetry and “whatever”. Prospera’s final speech rejecting art and magic and embracing humanity and the everyday was passionate and moving. As the cast including all the Ariels – Abbey Ayers, Natasha Campling, Lily Cook, Olivia Freer, Katie Haines, Beth McKay, Danielle Pointer and Natasha Porter – boogied off stage the audience felt both uplifted and humbled by the commitment of all concerned and the irrepressible vitality of the young people involved.”