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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      20.08.2000 09:09
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      I have been standing on a beach with several thousand other people. We were staring at a floodlit oil rig that had been towed to Brighton to stage a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Tempest. Much had been made in the press of the high-tech shenanigans we would behold: Lasers, helicopters, bungee-jumpers, parachuting people with jet-packs, speed boats, fireworks, big screens and jet skis... I must admit it was exciting walking along what is usually such a familiar place to me and seeing it transformed. The crowds thronging the beach, searchlights beaming into the night sky, the tremendous thud of music like a heart beat calling people to watch. Most of all, the oil rig itself - a huge platform with big screens starpped to the front of it with filmed sequences of dance and actors playing on them. A bewildering carnival of light, noise and the unfamiliar. A helicopter was circling the beach, pink lights glowing in the distance. My boyfriend and I tried to push our way through the crowds to get a better view. I found I was standing behind the tallest man in the world (why does that always happen?!) We craned our necks to see the helicopter come lower, suddenly two white shapes falling towards us from the sky, like giant birds swooping. They switched on bright pink ligts to match the helicopter's and we could see they had jet-packs on as they came closer still. The crowds were clapping, laughing, delighted, screaming as they descended and finally came to land on the seafront. This is *amazing*, I thought, and looked around me at everyone smiling. It all went quiet for a very long time. Nothing seemed to be happening now, except a man (I assume he was supposed to be Prospero) on a large crane was being hoisted above the oil rig. The screens flickered into life sometimes, showing the charcters as filmed previously, doing god knows what. Nobody knew what the hell was going on, least of
      all (so it seemed) the actors. We could hear nobody speaking on the platform, just the thunp of the music, and it all got rather boring. People were starting to leave. We waited and waited for it to get better - they had started so well - but it never really did... The Council had put this event on as a free performance to mark their bid for Brighton to have city status. I tried to work out how much it must have cost to hire (and tow) an oil rig, not to mention the cost of the lasers and helicopters and so on. I'm thinking it was more money than I will ever see in my bank account :-) So, was it worth it? Um, well no. Yes, it was all very nice and exciting for a while, being with so many people and gaping at an oilrig, but they made *nothing* of the set they had spent so much money on. It was as if they had been so overwhelmed by the idea, they had forgotten to add any *content*. Supposedly based on The Tempest, they could have told us it was based on The Three Billy Goats Gruff and nobody would have been any the wiser. If the Council wanted to stage a huge event like this, and there is no reason why they shouldn't, they should at least make sure it is worth it. The crowds had come in droves to see this 'spectacular' and from the conversations I heard around me, most of them felt very let down. I was expecting a huge climactic ending, which would have made it something to remember, but all we got were a few fireworks and some people prancing off the oil rig waving flags. It could have been so wonderful, but it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I will remember it, but sadly for the wrong reasons. Am I too cynical? I hope not. Oh for what could have been....


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