Box of Delights Review

Wilton Music Hall – until 5 January 2019

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley

5*****

The magical setting of the 19th Century Wilton Music Hall creates the scene as soon as you walk through the grand entrance. A wonderful Edwardian fantasy tale of good overcoming evil is woven, using a delicious blend of lighting, puppetry, music and costume.

The three child characters were at the centre of the story. Theo Ancient as Kay captured the spirit of adventure, maintaining an earnest performance throughout. In the same way Safiyya Ingar as Mariah gives her character youthful tom boyish energy and brings plenty of humour to the piece, waving her pistols and swashbuckling! Samuel Simmonds as Peter is the essence of a public school boy dweeb, sad and funny all at once. You forget they are grown ups really! The supporting cast playing multiple parts seamlessly sewed the story together. With larger than life Nigel Betts as both Cole Hawlings and Abner Brown, he truly brought ancient magic and modern hope alive in this traditional winter’s tale.

Thanks to The Creative Team, their adventure was embellished with the liquid movements of skilful puppetry giving it a magical aura. I particularly loved the Phoenix. Alongside this was the quirky use of old wooden wardrobes to create entrances and exits, hiding places and prison cells, height and depth. They were particularly effective during the chase scenes and rampant scrobbling!

It’s great to find a traditional Yuletide tale with grown up shades of dark and light, that laid the foundations for tales like Northern Lights and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Piers Torday has done a great job adapting John Masefields Novel, encouraging us all to seek these books out and have a read. A proper Christmasy family production.

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