Northern Stage Newcastle – until 31st December.
Reviewed by Sandra Little
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a family Christmas offering from Northern Stage, written by Laura Lindow . The action takes place on a large stage and is set in the streets of Newcastle. Scenery for this production is quite industrial in style and often dark and gloomy, adding to the mysterious atmosphere of the early part of the show. The stage set for the second half, inside the sorcerer’s home, is more a more colourful affair.
The storyline for this production is very loosely based on the traditional tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with some more modern twists, and local references, thrown in along the way. The main character, Hatty Rabbit, played by Beth Crame, is a child who is blessed with magical powers which she credits to her special birth. When Hatty’s mum (Alice Blundell) dies Hatty’s wicked aunt, Primula Fudge, ( Heather Dutton ) agrees to care for Hatty. Eventually Hatty is sent to Bish Bash Bosh, an institution for challenging children. During her stay Hatty finds a letter from a sorcerer asking for an apprentice. Suffice to say Hatty is given the job of apprentice, but when the sorcerer leaves Hatty in charge, the magic begins. Like all good Christmas stories there is a happy ending to this tale.
Hatty is an exuberant, energetic and lively character who interacts in a friendly way with the audience from time to time, and Beth Crame gives this role her all! Hatty’s furry friend the rat puppet ( Patrick Munday) added a further dimension to the story and I’m sure the children who were watching loved this cute little character. My favourite character however, was definitely Hatty’s aunt, Primula Fudge. Although she was unkind to Hatty, Heather Dutton was so funny in this role and came across as a totally self obsessed character who loves the limelight. The scene with the photographer was particularly funny and Primula’s costume definitely reflected her larger than life personality.
In terms of humour, there were some quite funny one liners included in the script. At one point for example, the sorcerer asks Hatty,”How do you eat your custard creams?” and she replies “As quickly as possible,” There was also some lavatorial humour ( which I’m sure the children loved ) including references to mouse droppings and reindeer poo,
The dance routine from children at Bish Bash Bosh was a highlight for me and the music and songs written by Katie Doherty was a pleasant addition to the show.
This production seemed to be enjoyed by families with children who were the target audience. However, I would have liked to see more exciting special effects in the show and more being made of Hattys magical powers. I think this would have made a good show even more special.