top of page

Review: The Tempest at the Coal Loader

Review by Charlotte Leamon

Lured by the sweet smells of spiced wine, tea and cacao, the audience commencing to watch ‘The Tempest’ gathers outside of the Coal Loader in Waverton. This Shakespearean classic, among others, is performed by theatre company Come you Spirits. This troupe values their spirituality and connection to land, choosing and editing plays in order to heighten their connection to our planet. Their team includes Jo Bloom (Caliban) and Sontaan Hopson (Ariel) who are both professional energy healing light workers. As a group of four, Charles Mayer (Prospero) and Ciarán O’Riordan (Ferdinand) complete the talent.

Storms, spirits and dreams make ‘The Tempest’ a haunting tale and a location such as the tunnels in Waverton is an interesting location to perform it to say the least. As the play begins, we gather outside as the troupe announce their own prologue of sorts, inviting us to feel and connect with what we are about to witness. As we journey inside the tunnels, many of us who are subjects to sitting when watching a performance need some convincing to get a move on. With words of encouragement, we excitedly chatter as we enter. Inside, the performance begins as we hear rushing sounds of water as Ferdinand falls victim to the storm. Brandon Read recorded the sound and music according to the Solfeggio frequencies. He states that the tone of each track is tuned to a chakra, benefitting the body and soul. This concept is deeply thought out and the creation of these frequencies was no doubt a big task. However, in the acoustic setting such as the tunnels much of this is lost.

Costumes and props designed by Letitia Hodgkinson are ethereal, capturing the essence of each character and adding vibrance to the Shakespearean world. As we witness the storm we move further into the tunnel and stop to watch most of the action here. The setting of the performance space is unique. Two lifted platforms are situated at either end of the makeshift space, with one in the centre. A door in which we don’t yet know what lies is where the actors come in and out as they leave the ‘stage’. A difficult space to perform in, and knowing that they bumped-in the set that morning means rehearsal time would have been short. The problem with this staging was that the audience couldn’t determine when we were to stop walking. We found ourselves squished between the walls straining to see the actors at either end. A narrow tunnel is hard to stage, but perhaps higher platforms could have been utilised. A beautiful moment where heights were explored pictured Ariel high on the industrial landing of the tunnel. She was yelling down at Ferdinand and Caliban who were in the centre platform and placed directly above Prospero who was controlling Ariel. The power of Hopson’s voice and the combination of sound by Read was frightening…in the best way possible.

Each actor delved deeply into their characters. Hopson embraces the energetic wildness of Ariel, being airy and light but powerful when necessary. Bloom embraces Caliban and stated to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2022 that, “by the end, it is a story of redemption, with Prospero realising he can’t control Mother Earth or young people like Miranda and Ferdinand falling in love.” Treating this troll as a symbol of nature allows her to connect deeply with intentions which shows through her powerful performance.

Overall, Come you Spirits has reignited the relationship between Shakespeare and nature. Integrating nature in performance space is enticing to the audience, and the performers do well despite battling the elements on their stage. A wonderful concept and idea, this troupe uses their spirituality for the best and takes a wonderfully unique spin on Shakespearean classics.

Image Supplied


bottom of page