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Published on Thursday, 15 August 2013

2 stars

Greenside (venue website)
Dance and Physical Theatre
12-16, 19-24 Aug, 6:40pm-7:25pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Entita Theatre have created the ultimate outlandish Bard adaptation – Shakespeare on a plane. In a forty-five minute whirlwind of a production, they have transformed the characters of The Tempest into gossip-mongering, flight-fearing, interpretive dancers. I was quite excited to see the results. Unfortunately, there’s not actually much to see; it’s more smooth cruising with a couple of bumps than the tempestuous and disturbing piece of theatre it could have been.

It’s important to know that Turbulence is not The Tempest. It constitutes a prequel, where a lot is being plotted and talked about, but there is very little action. Presumably, the foreshadowing of The Tempest is meant to mirror the sinking, uneasy feeling of Turbulence, and I can certainly see the merit in having the play set on a plane. In between plotting, drinking and marriages falling apart, there is time for some dance to move the set around and to physically display the actual turbulence itself; the physical theatre is actually very good, even if the music leaves much to be desired.

The characters, all from The Tempest, are nicely characterised to suit a modern setting. The young cast are certainly talented in both acting and dance. And despite a couple of near-fiascos when moving the chairs around each other, the cast do a fine job of creating atmosphere from a very minimal set, genuinely making the best of their studio at Greenside.

The main problem I have with this production is that it doesn’t achieve anything significant in terms of plot. It introduces characters, their connections and their plans, but it adds nothing to the original that we wouldn’t have worked out by a staging of The Tempest itself. Even at forty-five minutes, it doesn’t have enough drama to really engage; as such, it seems to drag on, and more than a few times I heard the slightly exasperated sighs of an audience wanting something a little more dramatic to happen. I would have enjoyed seeing it as an add-on to a full scale production of The Tempest, but as it stands it’s a little dull.

I don’t want to dishearten Entita Theatre – they show enormous promise as a company, with natural talent that many would envy. Perhaps they were a little afraid to play around with a timeless text, but when a production has as many modern changes as this does, I think an even bolder approach would be better. Great as the physical theatre and dance is, it doesn’t compensate for a production that fails to get the brain working. By the time the abrupt ending comes, we were left sitting and wondering what exactly we had spent time watching… so for all the wonderful turbulent dancing, this show won’t be making people jump out of their seats in excitement.

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