Maumbury Rings, Dorchester

NOT many theatre companies can make their audiences laugh and cry in the same sentence but Cornwall-based Miracle Theatre usually manage to do so with their professional touring productions and this latest offering is no exception.

Based on a 17th century play by the Spanish dramatist Calderon de la Barca, it tells the story of a King who believes that his new-born son is destined to destroy the whole world so he locks him away in a cave for life.

Sounds creepy, but Bill Scott’s adaptation brings love, surprise and laughter into the drama which has a cast of only six actors who not only change roles and costumes with lightning speed and dexterity but also provide the sound effects offstage.

Lots of audience participation, off-the-cuff asides and comedy routines make this a summer treat for all the family as love and the hand of destiny take hold of the father and son as well as rival royals who make a bid for the throne.

The cast’s perceptive performances blend nicely in this complex plot that has rich Shakespearean overtones and is at times unexpectedly up-to-date in its perception of modern society and the responsibility of leadership.

The sudden accident of one of leading actors meant that his role was taken in this performance by director Bill Scott, no mean feat and much to his credit in a play that was enjoyable on several levels. The production continues for the rest of the month at various Cornish venues.