Kerry Ann Eustice reviews the Tempest, Brockley Jack Theatre

PICTURE pink stilettos, lashings of lipstick and the men massively outnumbered and it may not be a Shakespeare play which comes to mind. But this begins to describe The Ant Theatre Company's adaptation of Shakespeare's last play The Tempest, currently showing at the Brockley Jack Theatre.

Instead of Prospero the rightful Duke of Milan, it is Prospera the true Duchess who is tricked out of her throne and shipwrecked on a far away island by scheming sister Antonia. Not brother Antonio as in original. And years later the passengers aboard the Queen's luxury boat, also stranded on the island, are all female fops of the royal court.

The sole female Miranda, who before was an idealistic representation of women (you know, the usual innocent and beautiful stuff) becomes Mirundo, the only man. So instead of exploring the nature of man, this production turns the microscope on women, to great comic and tragic effect.

Much of the humour in this adaptation, with its modern gender-reversal and contemporary costume think sharp tailoring, high heels and short skirts comes from the 400-year-old script, delivered with such sass and sophistication it's a bit like Shakespeare meets Sex and the City.

With women dominating the stage, aware of their desires and giving strong speeches, it leaves the men in the audience in awe and the ladies empowered.

But the most interesting element of this adaptation has to be the effect of reversing the people behind the power.

All the characters, with the exception of the young lovers, are on the receiving and giving end of corruption. The women abuse magic, condone slavery, tuck into some treachery and get woozy with wine.

So it's hard to tell if this production is saying sister's are doing it for themselves or are actually just as bad as the men.

Despite the obvious gimmick, it is the cast who conjure up the storm in this version of The Tempest.

A young cast, some straight out of drama school, have given this old play a fresh appeal.

The physical performances given by the actresses playing the island's true inhabitants are particularly striking.

Roanna Cochrane makes a mesmerising professional stage debut as Arielle, supernatural spirit of the skies, with carefully choreographed jerky wide-eyed mannerisms and magical musical tones.

Less majestic and smeared with last night's mascara are the drunken duo, Stephanie and Trincula. They are by far the most captivating comediennes on the island and share the line Wit shall not go unrewarded'.

Which is important, as in this production, swapping chaps for chicks and mentioning Big Brother celebrities (a minor deviance from the original script) has unveiled The Tempest as a play laced with laughs for both the ladies and the lads.

Now - October 9. Shakespeare's The Tempest, Brockley Jack Theatre, Brockley, 8pm (no Monday perfs,) £10/£7 concs, 020 8291 6354.