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Point Break Drama Acting Studio: The Tempest - Review by Jordan Anderson

It all begins, like so many things, with a dark and stormy night; a blinding flash of light, a piercing shriek of wind, and the heavy thud of a rolling swell. And I’m not just talking about my drive into Manly. A hushed audience waits with baited breath as a mischievous mix of melodic music teases the turbulent, tumultuous tirade that awaits.

Point Break Drama Acting Studio has taken on the daunting task of bringing this Shakespeare classic, The Tempest, to the Star of The Sea Theatre, and in doing so they have created something magical that no vision from Prospero themselves could compare with. I must admit I am not as familiar with this text as I am with other Shakespearean works, but in the capable hands of Point Break Drama, I believe I may just have a new favourite. And now, after seeing two of their productions, I eagerly look forward to coming back and seeing a third.

The more than capable Co-Directors, Blair Cutting and Paul Winchester, have wrangled a cast of 15 actors, and it’s clear that they have instilled a deep love for the words of the Bard within them. The obvious joy and fun that every single person on stage was having was obvious, you could see they were having the time of their lives on stage and clearly adored being given the chance to perform. The energy that was radiating off the stage was palpable, infectious, and really helped lift the atmosphere of the entire piece. Even in the smaller roles, they put everything they had into their moments on stage.

Though the lynchpin of this show is the powerhouse performance of Melissa Jones as Prospero. My knowledge is such that I didn’t realise Prospero is written as a male presenting role, because Melissa just worked so well in it. She had a beautiful maternal instinct with Miranda; every moment of care, of chastisement, of planning her revenge not only read as a woman scorned but as a mother who wanted to protect and craft a better life for her. It gave beautiful reason for her change in character in Act V, when everyone is forced together by her whims. That’s not to say everything was maternal, she was genuinely frightening in her interactions with Caliban, and it was clear that beneath the surface there was an anger simmering, waiting to burst. But as easily as she controlled Aerial, she controlled the show and the audience.

Speaking of Aerial, Dion Carrothers portrayed this nature spirit of air and mischief with a supernatural flair, combining a fluid physicality with a haunting musicality in his speech. The way he danced and moved around stage, encompassing the chaos, corralling the shipwrecked crew, and displaying the aggression of a mutinous servant, was both joyful and at times frightening. On the other side of the spectrum was Oliver Harcourt as Caliban, who portrayed the unwilling slave of Prospero with a timidity, verging on shyness, that would randomly explode into anger and then swiftly change to pathetic begging, creating a character worthy of the title monster.

Catherine Gilbert and Michael Hawkins, as Miranda and Ferdinand respectively, played the young lovers with a beautiful naivety and strong chemistry. Their innocence provided a good foil for the mistakes of the older generation, represented by King Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian, capably performed by Emma Riddle, Elly Speer and Olivia Castree-Croad. Honourable mentions must go to Revelle Najar and Georgie Bonanno as Stephano and Trinculo, the drunk butler and court jester. Both of these talented actresses stole the stage whenever they were on, providing wonderful comic relief for the show.

One final thing I must mention is the technical aspects of this show. The lighting was understated but effective, and the music was excellent. Not overused but exactly what was needed for the moments. Big props to Sound and Stage Manager Elisheba Femia and her assistant Charlie Campbell, who created a fantastic atmosphere for the show. Costume design by Marisa Newnes was exemplary, easily helping the audience establish a connection between the different characters and helping create their different idiosyncrasies.

Point Break Drama Acting Studios should be extremely proud of the production they’ve created, and if this is the current calibre of our young Australian actors, then the future of Australia’s theatre scene is in good hands. I give this production 5 Goddesses coming down to perform a wedding masque.

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