Friday, January 16, 2015

swallows and amazons at the old vic

Moira+I went along to Bristol’s Old Vic theatre on Wednesday to see our second “Christmas show” of the season. Arthur Ransome’s 1929 novel had been adapted for the theatre by Helen Edmundson, with songs by Neil Hannon and this production (directed by Tom Morris) provided another wonderful evening’s entertainment. I THINK I can remember reading “Swallows and Amazons” in my youth (or was it just the television series I watched?)... and there’s definitely something rather nostalgic about the sense of fantastic childhood adventure (especially when mixed with memories  of my time as a boy scout!).
The principle members of the cast are all excellent, but I also loved that the minor characters - or “players in blue” (as the programme describes them) – were also musicians, prop-holders, water-throwers, wave-makers and much more besides. This was very much low-tech theatre at its very best. I continue to be massively impressed by the abilities and skills of theatrical designers (set, costume, sound and lighting... SO much invention and, best of all, so much left to the imagination of the audience. It was all very good fun.
Bristol has been exceptionally fortunate to have had two truly excellent Christmas shows this year (perhaps, not surprisingly, “101 Dalmatians” is still my favourite!).
I was waiting in the lobby before the show started and a mother(?) passed me, talking to her 8-9 year-old son(?)... she was trying to explain to him what “theatre” was all about. I have to say, her son looked pretty nonplussed and gave every impression of having been dragged along against his will. Well, this production was definitely another case of the “magic of theatre” and I’d be prepared to bet that the boy emerged into the night air after the show as an enthusiastic, passionate convert!

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