Friday 16 July 2021

THEATRE REVIEW: The Forgotten Forest - St Luke's Bombed-Out Church, Liverpool.

'The Forgotten Forest'  at St. Luke’s Church, better known as The Bombed-Out Church, is one of a number of shows being performed at The Little Liverpool Theatre Festival, which was organised by Bill Elms, who is the artistic and festival director.The Festival has done an excellent building on from the success of last summers Liverpool Theatre Festival, by giving creatives and performers a platform to showcase their incredible talents. The venue itself was extremely welcoming and friendly. All the guests felt safe, with the social distance restrictions in place and their temperatures were taken prior to their entry into the church.  

Now, on with the show, 'The Forgotten Forest' was produced by 3D Interact, who have done an fantastic job putting the show on the stage. Their production values were good and were easily demonstrated throughout the show. Written by Becky Brooks she also directed with a passion for entertaining young children and this could be clearly seen thoroughout the show. The writing was good and there were some memorable one-liners. There was a brilliant balance of humour for both the children and the adults too. The cast consisted of Samantha Alton as Roxy The Cat, Not The Fox, Edwina Lea as Stu, The Rabbit, Adam Nicholls as Bear and Roxanne Male as Si, The School Child. This pantomime-like show would not be complete without a baddie, who was Becky Brooks as Mean Queen Mortician, who had been channeling Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmations.  

'The Forgotten Forest' opened with bird tweeting in the background, whilst music was playing, then entered, Stu and Roxy singing the classic song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” really getting the audience going from the moment they began singing. Their beloved home had been ruined by pollution, now Mean Queen Morticia is trying to demolish it so she can build an extravagant castle in The Forgotten Forest. The animals were faced with the awful dilemma to either look for alternative home or become servants for the Queen. 

On their travels, Stu and Roxy encountered another furry friend, Bear, who was trying to escape working for Mean Queen Morticia.  After saving him from the Queen’s clutches, they meet a human friend, Si, the school child, who was absolutely bewildered by hearing these beloved animals talking like humans. They later join forces and hatch a plan to keep their home, with surprising and funny incidents.  

The running themes in the show were love, affection, loneliness, conflict and friendships. The narrative managed to convey a lot of drama, laughter and emotion throughout, and I particularly liked how the story was told in a hunourous way for both the adults and children. The acting was a good standard, additionally the comedy timing and delivery of one-liners was excellent. 

The props and litter in The Forgotten Forest were designed and created by Happy Times Activity and Yoga Centre. The stage had two makeshift trees and litter was scattered all over the floor, where the audience were sitting  The cast managed to persuade the children to help them clean up the litter, which they are all eagerly participated in doing so. There was a good flow of scenes and timed well to keep the children entertained. The costumes and make-up was good and you could easy distinguish between the various animals the characters were playing. I thought the cast did a good job to add the illusion of the forest on the stage and floor, where the audience were sitting.  

There was a good selection of songs sung throughout, such as “Stop, Right Now” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. These songs struck a chord with the audience as they were familiar and everyone knew the words. There was loads of audience participating, especially amongst the children, whether they were collecting rubbish, singing songs and dancing to the songs. I particularly liked how the songs reasonated with the characters in certain scenes of the show. The choreography was a good standard as all the cast had dance routines and were all in sequence with each other, didn’t take long for the children to copy what they were doing.  

Special mention to Samantha Alton, who replaced another cast member, due to illness, at very short notice, ie: the night before the show!  I think she did an excellent job fitting into the show and learning all the dialogue, songs and dance routines, so quickly.

On a final note, if you’re looking for show to take your children to, then I would recommend they come along and see this feel-good, interactive show. It had everything you would expect in a typical pantomime like laughter, joy, fun, comedy and the cast did an excellent job transporting the children to the fantasy land of the forest. 

Reviewer - Mark Kyle Cooper
on - 14.7.21

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