THE TIN SOLDIER
by Noël Greig.
Take-off Festival Darlington 10-11 November.
then Royal Exchange (Studio) Manchester 14-December-1 January 2011.
TICKETS: 0161 833 9833.
Runs: 50min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 29 October at Unicorn Teatre I(Clore auditorium) London 29 October.
Fittingly fine final piece from a major writer for young audiences.
Noël Greig was a very special writer and member of the theatre community. His passing last year has left an irreplaceable gap as playwright, teacher, mentor and inspiration especially for theatre for young people. He leaves behind however a huge body of work as well the legions of young people he influenced.
That quality of inspiration could hardly be better illustrated than in The Tin Soldier, for 7-11s, the last play he wrote, which so perfectly reflects the values by which Noël Greig live:. honesty, the search for beauty, love.
Based on a Hans Christian Andersen short story, The Tin Soldier is the third in a trilogy that includes two earlier plays commissioned by Tangere Arts, Hood in the Wood (2006 and 2008) and A Tasty Tale (2008).
In this story of a one-legged tin soldier who holds a hopeless love for a paper dancer, performer Gary Lagden and young musicians Nick Haward and Chris Preece treat us to 50 minutes of pure magic.
Lagden’s extraordinary physical economy, accompanied by Haward and Preece as active participants, takes us through what can only be described as a labyrinth of emotions.
Preece, employing a small battery of coloured bells and a miniature piano that he manoeuvres around the stage is joined by Haward’s double bass. Their accompaniment acts as a sensitive sound landscape to Greig’s rhyming words, beautifully expressed by Lagden as, dressed only in tee-shirt and jeans, he gently guides us through a story that touches on discrimination – Tin Soldier is of course shunned by the other toy soldiers for being one-legged – hope and virtue. No matter what befalls Tin Soldier – and Hate rears its ugly head to thwart and destroy our hero – he holds fast. He never complains, he remains loyal to his love.
The ending is dark and tragic and doubly poignant in view of Noël Greig’s own situation at the time of writing. The piece nonetheless stands alone, on its own merit, as a perfect and timeless example of theatrical transcendence.
A performer and two musicians is all it takes, in the right hands, to capture hearts and hold a bewitching mirror up to human nature.
Performer: Gary Lagden.
Double Bass: Nick Haward.
Percussionist: Chris Preece.
Director/Music: Lewis Gibson.
The Exhibition at the Unicorn, celebrating Noël Greig’s life and work was part of UNFINISHED HISTORIES collection, originally presented at Rose Bruford College, curated by Susan Croft and Jessica Higgs.
The washing line of memories was curated by Sophia Lovell Smith and Karen Spicer.
The Tin Soldier and other plays for children which includes the trilogy of The Tin Soldier Hood in the Wood and A Tasty Tale – the true story of Hansel and Gretel – has just been published by Aurora Metro Press: www.aurorapress.com