By JC Marshall. A Visible Fictions review.
DESPITE the enormous changes brought about by the industrial and technological revolutions, we have never stopped being spellbound by the fairy story. The world of woodcutters, wolves and forests should mean nothing to the modern child, yet the archetypal narratives of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and Snow White remain potent. It is as if these ancient folk tales exist in a perpetual present tense: "Once upon a time there is," and not, "Once upon a time there was".
12 May 2011 Northings
Adapted by Douglas Irvine. A Visible Fictions review.
ON paper it just shouldn't work. The starting point of this collaboration between Scottish Opera and the children's theatre company Visible Fictions is Philip Pullman's Clockwork (or All Wound Up). It's a novel that tells three stories – and not all in the right order. There's the one about Fritz, a storyteller who has a cracking tale to tell but hasn't got round to finishing it. There's the one about Karl, a clockmaker's apprentice, who is unable to think of a design for a mechanical figure to appear on the village clock. And there is the story within a story about a prince who keeps his son alive with a clockwork heart.
YOU can't fault the Imaginate children's theatre festival for variety. On Monday alone, you could see tutus for two-year-olds, postmodern Irish storytelling for the over-sevens and a through-composed Philip Pullman adaptation.
ZORRO, it often seems, is simply not there. He's just a swish of a sword and a swoop of a cape, a blur of movement perplexing his enemies and thrilling his audience. At other times, he is a cardboard cut-out, perching on a rooftop that has suddenly appeared from nowhere on Robin Peoples's pop-up book of a set (which gets its own spontaneous burst of applause). At other times still, he is no superhero at all, but plain old stable boy Don Diego de la Vega, played by Sandy Grierson with a humility that contrasts with the swagger he brings to the masked swordsman.
By Robert Forrest. A Visible Fictions review.
TO create an atmosphere of terror on the stage takes some doing. To do it with only two actors is a greater accomplishment still. But that's what Visible Fictions manages in this edge-of-your-seat staging of Robert Forrest's teen-friendly play inspired by the section of Bram Stoker's Dracula in which the Transylvanian vampire stows away on the good ship Demeter and stalks the crew on their voyage to England.
By JM Barrie. Visible Fictions review.
JM BARRIE'S 1904 classic novel expresses troubling psychological ideas through the lightest of means. But, ironically, the story of a boy who can fly is frequently grounded by Edwardian whimsy and heavy-handed staging. For 21st century tastes, the middle-class children can seem cloying rather than adventurous, while the effort of recreating a Bloomsbury town house, a pirate ship and the land of the Lost Boys can weigh a production down.
By Jim Cartwright. Visible Fictions review.
AT the heart of Jim Cartwright's play is an implicitly theatrical idea. The young girl we've seen cowering, timid and barely audible in the first half, flourishes in the second half with an extended musical medley that shows her to have astonishing gifts of singing and mimicry.
By Robert Forrest. Visible Fictions review.
WHAT child wouldn't like to get their hands on Robin Peoples' set for ‘Jason and the Argonauts’? At first sight it's just a wooden cart with two large wheels either side – somewhere for actors Simon Donaldson and Tim Settle to sit as they bide time waiting for the action to begin. But as Robert Forrest's highly enjoyable play swings into life, so the set comes into its own.
By Robert Forrest. Visible Fictions review.
YOUNG people's company Visible Fictions seems intent on giving its audience a hard time. Last year, it toured a show called Big Baby which painted a bleak view of capitalist excess taken to its most destructive and depressing conclusion. Now it's on the road with Robert Forrest's ‘Prince Unleashed’ about a young girl going through the psychological trauma of losing her parents and her beloved dog, Prince, in a car crash, and finding herself stuck with her unlovely relatives. As my rather shaken nine-year-old companion said at the end, hers is the sort of story that would "send teenagers into depression".
By Brendan Murray. Visible Fictions review.
YOU'D never want to argue that young people should be denied the range of emotions that adult audiences take for granted, but Brendan Murray's play for teenagers is laden with a level of cynicism and despair that would be hard for any age to stomach.It starts off bright and cheery enough, in Douglas Irvine's entertaining production for Visible Fictions, staged on a set by Caroline Grebbell that's half music hall, half pop-up theatre. We're in the mid-19th century where two ordinary country folk, Janet and John (Claire Knight and PJ Henry), fall in love and agree to marry. All rosy cheeks and fruity poetry, the two await the arrival of a baby, finding themselves full of hope and big ideas for the future.
By Donald Mcleary. Visible Fictions review.
IT used to be as a teenager that you could never find books that were aimed at you. Too old for baby books, not ready for adult literature, those in their teens were neglected. That’s all changed now, with a whole genre of teenage fiction, but things haven’t moved so fast in the theatre. There are plenty of companies catering to the under-10s, but teenagers are unlikely to see anything unless it comes with a teachers pack, a post-show discussion and a clear educational message.
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