With the RSC pushing the boundaries in their technologically innovative production of The Tempest (soon transferring to London’s Barbican), it feels like a good time to think around the story more – which is exactly what Laura Turner’s The Buried Moon does. Following a brief run at Bankside’s Rose Playhouse, it is currently part of the Old Red Lion’s Brick Lane Theatre Festival (playing at the Old Truman Brewery) and will also feature as part of the Petersfield Shakespeare Festival later in the summer.
It explores one of The Tempest’s several subplots, that of the relationship between Miranda and Caliban – one of the more potentially interesting episodes, but very rarely expanded on. The whole world of The Tempest is transported to the Lincolnshire fens in 2015, where Cal lives in his tent and 16 year old Miranda encounters him by chance after school one day. They’re both outsiders and quickly bond, regularly spending Friday evenings together; Cal teaches Miranda survival skills, while she tells him stories. But they reach a dramatic turning point when Miranda chooses to try and fit in after new boy Ferdy invites her to the pub one Friday night…
Not only is it interesting as a potential back story to part of the Shakespeare play (“What if I made him what he is?”, worries Miranda), but also as a contemplation on humanity. How do you respond to bullying, or cope with being an outsider? Running at approximately 60 minutes, there is room to extend the play a little to flesh somethings out a bit more – for example, Cal’s reaction to Miranda arriving late only once feels slightly out of the blue, and events then escalate quickly that same night. It does, however, explain perfectly why Miranda would go on to despise him after their initially very cordial and understanding relationship.
The wooden and naturally gloomy aesthetic of the Rose works perfectly for a play set out in nature, with Cal’s tent and washing line blending into the surroundings.
Georgina Hellier and Michael Kinsey both give fantastic performances as Miranda and Cal. It all feels very natural, and their relationship is completely believable. Kinsey does well to get the audience on his side as a misunderstood young man, particularly the moment Miranda betrays him – but equally Hellier’s portrayal of Miranda’s dilemma shows how guilty she feels. Both performances complement each other nicely, as the audience considers what they’d do in either scenario.
My verdict? An overdue back story of two of Shakespeare’s very famous characters, that also explores themes relevant to many – an interesting watch.