by Mike Kenny.

Lawrence Batley Theatre Queen’s Square Queen Street HD1 2SP To 28 December 2014.
11am 21, 24, 28 Dec.
2.15pm 21, 24, 28 Dec.
2.30pm 22, 23, 27 Dec.
6.30pm 22, 23, 26, 27 Dec.
BSL Signed 22 Dec 6.30pm.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 01484 430528.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 December.

Friendly, entertaining and wise.
If there’s one thing you can be sure of with Mike Kenny it’s that he’s never predictable. He has, like Caryl Churchill, the ability to fit his treatment of a theme or traditional story to a form that helps make the point most tellingly.

And if there’s one central preoccupation in his plays for young audiences, it’s growth in self-realisation, something which can bring a new equilibrium to the youngest character – one young enough to relate to his audiences – as the child learns how to respond, and be responsible, as a member of a family or social group.

In his happy way young Silas starts out following his imagination and the stories it creates. But when he has to leave the immediate influence of his family – mother and grandfather; the family influence flows through the generations – to guard their sheep on the remote hilltop, his imagination leads him to cry Wolf when there is none there. Twice, over two seasons, he drags the others, pointlessly, a long way in inclement winter weather.

At first they believe there must be a wolf, or why would he have cried-out? But as the expected evidence is lacking, suspicions grow, along with his excuses. So when, in the third, snowy winter, a wolf arrives, they ignore his signal and Silas has to determine how to protect the flock.

This brings home to him the importance of trust and truth, while having to rely on his own resources brings its own rewards. And a bonus for the play’s other strand, giving his mother the ideal pattern for the jumper-knitting competition she’s just missed out on each year.

The spare writing has its own patterns, including songs and childlike repetition in what Silas says, and picks-up from what’s said to him (childhood includes being told the same things repeatedly). The spareness is reflected in the light, pointed playing in Wendy Harris’s lively yet unhurried production, in which Kelly Jago’s set at the Lawrence Batley rises to a lonely distance, sweeping down to a village assembled from miniature buildings; a space accommodating both community and isolation.

Silas: Barney Cooper.
Mother: Selina Zaza.
Grandfather: Simon Spencer-Hyde.

Director: Wendy Harris.
Designer: Kelly Jago.
Lighting: Sara Burns.
Composer: Dominic Sales.
Movement: T C Howard.

2014-12-23 02:01:41

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