by Mandy Holliday.
Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC12N 6NL to 3 January 2016.
Mon – Sun 11am. 20,21,28,29 December & 3 January 1.30pm and 4pm. 22 December 2pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7930 5868.
Review: William Russell 12 December.
A fun filled hour for small folk.
This variation by Mandy Holliday on Hans Anderson’s story of the soldier boy Brian the Brave back from the wars and looking for love is charming and omits the grimmer aspects of the great man’s story. It hardly matters and it certainly kept the audience of mainly under nine years of age children entertained and in their seats. No sudden dashes to the loo for them.
There is a lot of audience participation most of which is organised by Brian. Samuel J Weir who plays him has mastered the essential pantomime art of rising to the occasion because one never knows what gets shouted from the auditorium that needs a reply.
There is an old crone played by Ms Holliday, a past mistress at this kind of thing, to whom the box rightly belongs – she sends Brian into a cave to find it and some treasure and he keeps both the treasure and the tinderbox, squandering the former.
He does not, however, as in Andersen’s story, cut off her head. In due course he realises the error of his ways, gets the lovely princess played by Bridget Costello and returns the box to the crone. There is also a wicked Queen played by Ms Holliday and a golden dog who helps Brian when he gets into trouble played by Ceris Hine, and one which loses its bark played by Ms Costello as well as a glorious puppet ballerina made out of gigantic pipe cleaners.
The music is recorded and consists of familiar melodies by Tchaikovsky and Mozart. It works well enough but the whole thing would be even better if the actors could play an instrument or two and there was a keyboard player present.
The Princess: Bridget Costello.
The Old Crone, Harry the Hound, the Wicked Queen: Mandy Holliday,
The Gold Dog: Ceris Hine
Brian the Brave: Samuel J. Weir.
Director: Abigail Pickard Price.
Production Designer: Christopher Home.
Lighting Designer: Chris Randall.
Sound Designer: Joshua Robins.
Choreographer: Lily Howkins.