From the start of this adaptation by Bryony Lavery of Arthur Ranson's 1930 novel Swallows and Amazons, I knew we were in good hands. Within two minutes of starting we were met with music, puppets and humour (good name for a band) and away we went!
Originally written in 1930, it tells the tale of the Walker children, John, Susan, Tatty and Roger and sisters, Nancy and Peggy Blackett. They each sail their respective boats,The Swallow and The Amazon and the high jinx Summer japes begin.
Joining forces against the sisters' Uncle Jim, or Captain Flint as he is renamed, the children enter into an imaginary world of combat and alliance. To portray the sincerity of children's intentions as an adult is a finely tuned skill and is captured beautifully by this vivacious team of players.
Callum McIntyre is striking, controlled and sometimes playful against his (character's) wishes, making a perfect Captain John. Lucy Keirl as the voice of reason and the maker of an 'excellent fire' Susan, is solid throughout. Claudia Grant as Tatty is a joy to watch. There is not an inch of her face or vocal range she doesn't use, without ever going too far. A delight. Mitesh Soni was a shining beacon. A masterclass in comedy and truth. His portrayal of Roger had the audience in the palm of his hand. and quite rightly. He was quite simply wonderful.
Director, Katie Posner and movement director, Lucy Cullingford have led this entire cast skillfully through Bryony Lavery's gem of a script. There is not an inch of stage unused or opportunity for magic lost. There was genuine affection created for these characters. So much so, a round of applause ensued following Roger's successful attempt at swimming
High praise indeed also for the skilled musicianship and performances of all ensemble players, including the expert handling of Matt Hutchinson's marvellous puppets.
With a beautifully atmospheric set, lighting from Rhys Jarman and Andrew Patterson, and enchanting composition from John Biddle, this piece is a perfect way to spend your evening. With or without Children! Oh, and don't walk. I find a Galump Galump is much more exciting.
Reviewer - Gillian Hardie
on - 9/6/18