The lone male actor, Adam Glass, is admirably undaunted by his isolation, conveying without a trace of inhibition the sudden sexual awakening of a youth kept unnaturally long in innocent childhood. The Juno scene, with the uninhibited goddess sexuality playing out before the trembling young couple, is particularly powerful in its sexual politics.
It's also great to see female actors allowed the joy of playing two of the great Shakespearean clown roles. Jane Bowhay as Stephanie and Hannah Wood as Trincula manage beautifully the concentrated slapstick of the encounter with Caliban (Clare Cameron) and the enthusiastic roistering that follows.
Indeed, the youthful enthusiasm of the young cast — almost all new acting graduates — is perhaps a little monotonous, but that does add a real feel of Jacobean England — a boys' company that might then have played it thus. (The pub theatre setting — reminiscent in its makeshift make-do of the early theatre of the coaching inn — amplifies that effect: and on opening night the period feel was added to by the intrusion of a drunk from the bar downstairs, which the actors ignored with admirable sang-froid.)
There might be a big reversal here, but you feel like Shakespeare himself would be at home in this production, would even relish its central conceit. And that's a pretty good reason to see this inventive Tempest.
The Tempest continues at the Cock Tavern Theatre until March 7. Tickets: £10.