Brighton FringeChildrensDramaPhysical TheatreReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Moondial – The Warren

Writer: Helen Cresswell
Adaptor and Director: Peter Darney
Music: Luke Isom
Reviewer: Glen Pearce

Adapting a well-loved novel for the stage is challenging when that novel involves ghosts, time travel and a hefty dose of supernatural it becomes an even more challenging task. Helen Cresswell’s Moondial, in this adaptation by Peter Darney, is an ambitious attempt.

As young Minty comes to terms with her own tragedy she’s drawn in a spectral mystery at the National Trust stately home her Aunt works at. A magical moondial transports her to two bygone eras of the house, both populated by other troubled youths. Servant Tom is desperate to become a footman but his stature and failing health make that seem unlikely, while for Sarah, night-time is her solace as she hides facial disfiguration.

As the trio come to terms with their own forms of loneliness, they need to combine forces to reach their own redemption. It’s a complex tale and an ambitious ask for a festival setting but one that shows promise.

Tasmine Airey’s Minty centres the show and her relationships with Bertie Taylor-Smith’s Tom and Juliette Chappell’s timid Sarah make for compelling viewing. Elsewhere in the cast, there is a tendency to overplay the roles, with Ina Marie-Smith’s Raven, in particular, teetering on panto villain rather than a convincing dark foe.

Peter Darney’s adaptation also veers towards the melodramatic, in a somewhat wordy script for a family audience, yet it does cram a lot into 90minutes.

There’s potential for a strong addition to cross generational theatre. With a bit of revision and focus, there’s a real gem here, just one that isn’t currently fully polished.

Reviewed on 3 June 2017 – The Warren Main House  |  @brightonfringe

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