by Sarah Richardson from Theresa Heskins’ adaptation of The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

New Vic Theatre (Studio) Etruria Road ST5 0JG To 27 December 2014.
11.15am 20, 22-24, 27 Dec.
1pm 20, 22, 23, 24, 27 Dec.
3pm 22, 23 Dec.
Runs 50min No interval.

TICKETS: 01782 717962.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 December.

Joyous trail well-worth exploring.
It’s a short attractive, trail from the front-doors of the New Vic round to the Stephen Joseph studio, where annually the main Christmas production, adapted by Artistic Director Theresa Heskins, from a well-known story, is accompanied by a ‘Tale Trail’ – a kind of beginner’s introduction to the same story.

Intended for 3-5s, it’s gentle, unthreatening and inclusive, involving young people in helping the characters they meet. One of these will be the chief guide to events, while a second actor appears in a number of roles along the way. Either might ask for help finding things, looking for ideas of what objects to use as matters proceed, and suggestions over what to do next.

Audiences consist of school and pre-school groups, and there are weekend and holiday family groups. Adults of all generations are welcome, but the company manage to make implicitly clear that the young people are the prime focus, and that their belief in the reality of the story must be respected.

That’s helped by the New Vic’s Education Department running the show. These are people who know how to relate to and encourage young people, with its Head, Jill Rezzano, having clearly fired-up a group who have been doing workshops with her. Sarah Richardson’s script and direction gently leads matters forward, asking young audience members for ideas and help in ways hey can understand, seeming to create solutions from hunts and objects that seem randomly hanging around.

The back-up of a professional theatre used to building its own shows is vital in creating the environment, with the studio space divided into three rooms, increasing the sense of the story as an adventure.

This year there’s the untidy reception area, the Borrowers’ cosy under-floor home, with scaled-up props – a cotton-reel stool, a matchbox table – and the spacious elegance of the human family’s habitation.

Bothe performances are finely-paced, with their own sense of wonder and discovery, while the gradual development of trust out of initial fear of a stranger, and the overcoming of loneliness through friendship, make this a piece to resonate with young children whose world is ever-widening.

Mrs Driver/Arrietty: Alicia Marsden.
Boy/Pod: Christopher Sawalha.

Director: Sarah Richardson.
Designer: Laura Clarkson.
Lighting: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls-Davis.
Music: James Atherton.
Costume: Lis Evans.

2014-12-19 09:32:46

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