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1992- The Tempest

The Shakespeare in Queen’s Park had been steadily increasing in popularity and we had now added performances at Lewes Castle.




The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, dealing as it with the nature of reality and magic. Probably why I”ve produced it so many times!

I was really getting into the swing of directing and Steve Wrigley put together a fantastic rock and roll score that added real impact to our iconoclastic production.

My favorite moment of the run was a great demonstration of the kind of supportive atmosphere that an audience of 500 plus can create in an open air setting.  When a disruptive and drunken passerby threatened to spoil the show  members of the crowd jumped over the fence and sat on him until two off duty police officers watching the show came forward to make an arrest.  The police car that turned up to take him away was greeted by a great cheer from the crowd, and the actors, after some appropriate ad libbing, got right on with the show!




The Evening Argus

Brighton’s Re:action Theatre got more of a response than they bargained for when they staged Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Queen”s Park.

The audience turned to watch a real life punch-up in the park after a heckler was told to keep the noise down.

The play was in full swing when a couple who’d been arguing started shouting at the actors. And eventually some of the audience got so irritated they SAT on the man to shut him up.

Re:action director Robin Manuell said:"The man seemed to think we were all Christians or something and started shouting loads of abuse."

"People watching asked him to be quiet – and that’s when the trouble started."

Professional to the end, the actors carried on while the three members of the audience and two off duty police officers watching the play sat on the man for 10 minutes until other police arrived.  Mr Manuell said:"When they did. a police officer driving a motorcycle came down the hill to the applause of the audience!"

PC Bryan Bell, one of the officers at the scene said:"I’ve never been called to anything like this before.  The members of the public were absolutely brilliant in their reponse.  It”s not very often we get people helping in this way."

Mr Manuell added: "We’ld just like to thank the three members of the audience who sat on him.  We don’t know who they are but they helped keep the situation under control!"

A man is due to appear in court on a public order charge.

Evening Argus

A Very Favourable Reaction

Re:action Theatre staged a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest against the dramatic backdrop of the ruined Norman castle in Lewes over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The group brought their usual high-energy approach to the production, which made it very popular with the many theatre lovers who turned up.

Powerful attraction

Re:action Theatre is the Brighton-based professional company whose Romeo and Juliet production at last year’s Brighton Festival proved very popular and attracted audiences of more than 3000.

This year they are presenting Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Queen’s Park from May 12-16.  Live musicians, dancers, singers, actors, jugglers and fire-eaters all take part in this lively production.

It’s not often your attention is distracted during a play by someone wrestling with a family size plastic packet of cherry tomatoes.  But that”s just one of the joys of an outdoor performance,

The audience who turned up in Queen’s Park for Shakespeare’s the Tempest were a jolly lot who wouldn”t have looked out of place in the pit of the globe, stocked up as they were with food and booze.

And the rain kept off.

Re:action Theatre lived up to their word, making Shakespeare entertaining and providing an evening that lifted the spirits.

The Royal Spa and a purple sky provided a dramatic backdrop for the play, a mix of children drowned and found, titles lost and restored, magic and love.

And being outside seemed to inspire expansive performances, especially from Simon Merrell’s as the sorcerer Prospero and his dainty sprite Ariel (James Richardson).  Clea Smith as Miranda has a bright future ahead. Caliban was good too, looking like a metal clown lost on his way to the Archaos tent.

I could have done without the overlong revelry and comic scenes but that aside it was an evening packed with more real theatre than an real theatre.

Mary De Sousa

Date Venue Audience
12th – 16th May Royal Spa, Queen’s Park, Brighton 4000
21th – 25th May Lewes Castle 3000

Cast and Crew    
Robin Manuell Laura Wright Alison Vaas
Simon Merrells Clea Smith Adrian Bunting
Giles Morgan Brian Mitchell James Richardson
Damian Coleman Kris Steffes Stuart Jackson
Sam Hewitt Samantha Bell Brian Bell Fortune
Katherine O”Reilly Sue Long Neil Manuell
Steve Wrigley Martin Milner Maggie Burrows
Ben Harley Adrian Oxall Charlotte Ramsey
Dill Harris