York Theatre Royal – until Sunday 1 September 2019
Review by Zoe Giles
For Jacqueline Wilson fans Hetty Feather at York theatre Royal is a real treat. The Youth Theatre put on a fantastic show. The stage production follows the book, so transports us into Hetty’s, or should that be Jacqueline’s, world. The stage set is perhaps more basic than expected, however, clever use of props helps us to understand exactly what is going on. The main structure is a frame with acrobatic equipment attached, which transforms itself from a tree in the children’s play, and transforms to the big top of the circus and creates the back drop for all scenes. Rather than distract us, it is used to clever effect to the point that you forget all about it at times.The young performers were amazing and extremely talented, the acrobatics were amazing considering they had no previous experience of such equipment before rehearsals, this made up for the loss of some of the opening lines from the younger performers. I was not sure if they were a bit shy and so not heard or sound issues as the music playing over the top drowned them out. Also watch out for the smoke effects if sitting in the first few rows of the stalls as in the first half they are very over powering for those seated near the front!
The puppetry for the elephant was outstanding and very believable even down to squirting water on some unsuspecting audience members! They certainly had put a lot of thought and research into creating the elephant and how it was to move and interact with everyone. Also movement from the cast throughout the performance made the show even more memorable. Hetty, (Hannah Brown) gave a strong performance throughout and certainly had stage presence, the other main male characters, Joshua Burland and Stan Gaskell, were very humorous and performed through their bodies and voices as the much younger characters they were portraying.
The costumes were colourful and eye catching as well as being well suited for the acrobatic movements required of the young performers. Whether they were children at play or members of the circus, Jasper McCarthy and Laura Sopher gave believable and strong performances within their circus roles. Another mention must go to Luke Tearney as matron; he had amazing stage presence, a strong powerful voice and at the end some unusual and funny dance moves!!!
All of the cast members gave a beautiful, powerful, emotional finale. Cast, crew members, sound engineers, musicians and everyone involved in this production, should be extremely proud of themselves for a very enjoyable production, which Jacqueline Wilson fans and theatre lovers everywhere will enjoy.