THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER
by Michael Rosen.
Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN To 10 July.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 June.
Touring to 24 December 2011.
Magical story of a magical island.
This spring’s 75-minute Tempest, combining the expertise of Islington’s Little Angel puppets and the Royal Shakespeare Company, is followed – in more than one sense – by Michael Rosen’s play for 3+, which brings Prospero’s daughter Miranda into the modern world with her child Isabella.
Speaking English, but happily breaking into occasional Italian, they link to Shakespeare’s Prospero, Duke of Milan. Shakespeare’s tempest is replicated by a heavy downpour through which they hurry home, Isabella no longer carried by her mum.
Once home, where shadowy neighbours glimpsed though the window scurrying in the rain are the show’s first puppets, Isabella’s tucked-up in bed and her mother talks of grandfather Prospero and his “isle”, as a hand rippling under bedclothes and an upturned hat create a floating boat.
From this it’s a short childhood journey via a song and a story to Isabella flying through the air to this isle, and meeting the stern, slim Ariel and the lumpy, earth-bound yet bulbously sympathetic Caliban. Phrases from The Tempest occur, especially ones linked to music, while Isabella realises how the two contrasting spirits can join their halves of the supernatural staff Prospero had broken to make new magic.
There’s a Peter Pan flavour to Isabella in puppet form flying from her safe bedroom to a magic land, and the same mix of a journey in the imagination that has childhood reality as in Hullabaloo’s current Night Pirates tour.
With the authorial voice (Rosen’s, that is, not Shakespeare’s) of Prospero and some atmospheric music from James Hesford and Ben Glasstone, added to Lizzie Wort and the company’s contributions, a world’s created around the two performers, who combine puppeteering with good acting.
For there’s a substantial human contribution, particularly to the poetic opening and closing sections. Wort’s controlled but kindly mother contrasts Clare Rebekah Ponting’s detailed expression of childhood.
The central section is more static, making room for comedy, but it builds in audience-friendly style towards a point to resonate with the young; the move from argument by negotiation to mutually fruitful accord, as truffle-finder Caliban and tree-fruit collector Ariel discover in this delightful piece.
Miranda: Lizzie Wort.
Isabella: Clare Rebekah Ponting.
Voice of Prospero: Michael Rosen.
Director: Peter Glanville.
Lighting: David Duffy.
Music: Ben Glasstone, James Hesford.
Puppets: Lyndie Wright.
Costume: Julia Jeulin.