ROSIE’S MAGIC HORSE
adapted from the book by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Quentin Blake book by Ollie Fielding music and lyrics by John Chambers.
Peaceful Lion Productions Tour to 14 March 2015.
Runs 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 December at Southwark Playhouse (The Large).
Fresh, inventive company takes flight.
Peaceful Lion theatre company have chosen a Quentin Bell illustration from Russell Hoban’s 2012 book as their main publicity image for this musical adaptation aimed at 3+. Little Rosie, hair streaming, sits forward clutching the mane of a huge horse on which she’s riding excitedly through the air. It’s a magical adventure story and it happens to a girl who’s aware from talk at home that the family has problems to do with money, and who wants to help.
At first she can only hope to do so, as she collects ice-lolly sticks. Both ice-cream and her box of sticks are evident from the start, as is an element of magic in the fairground tent on show. Night comes and both the lolly sticks and her power to act transform when Rosie’s collection comes out of its box as the equine Stickerino.
In the tension between hopelessness and endeavour, the positive wins out and sparks the imagination as Rosie rides out, determined to find treasure and help her parents. Treasure-wise, access to a magic horse sends Rosie off to the usual places, from Ali Baba’s cave to El Dorado. A play about the life of the imagination encourages young audiences to use theirs, aided by puppets, shadow-play and visual metaphors that create a clouded skyscape out of twirling umbrellas.
There’s some good singing and decent acting. There’s also room for the show to develop in fluidity as it moves from its pre-Christmas Southwark run to tour in spring. But already there’s friendliness, a human-scale (which even applies to the horse) and, chiefly, a swift storytelling that doesn’t so much globe-trot as gallop apace.
On the book’s cover Peaceful Lion’s poster image is revealed as showing Stickerino leaping over mountains. At times, especially for the older end of the age range, it may need the narrative speed to maintain credibility but its fantasy is rooted in domestic reality and it is a busy, active piece which is visually inventive and captures the essence of childhood interest in things that attract the imagination rather than those that come sleekly packaged and gleaming.
Peaceful Lion is also developing a programme of performances for children in hospital wards. They hope to build an ensemble for this year-round. An admirable aim. More details at www.peacefullion.com/hospitals.php
Rosie: Katie Arnstein.
Rosie’s Mum: Anita Creed.
Rosie’s Dad: Tim Gutteridge.
Director: Ollie Fielding.
Designer: Eleanor Field.
Lighting: Sarah McColgan.
1 Feb 11.30am Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440 www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
6-7 Feb Fri 10am; Sat 11am Princess Royal Theatre Port Talbot 01639 763214.
8 Feb 12pm & 3pm Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre Highgate 020 8341 4421 www.jacksonslane.org.uk
19-20 Feb 11am & 2pm New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich 01473 295900 www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
8 March 1pm & 3pm The Albany Deptford 020 8692 4446 www.thealbany.org.uk
14 March 2pm The Point Eastleigh 023 8065 2333 www.thepointeastleigh.co.uk