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Gulliver’s Travels, Curve, Leicester

Writer: Peter Rumney

Director: Adel-Al-Salloum

Reviewer: David Cundill

[Rating:4]

Leicester’s Spark Children’s Arts Festival is off to a cracking start with this retelling of Jonathan Swift’s classic tale of Gulliver’s Travels, which schools and families aged 9+ are sure to enjoy.

This play was fun, accessible and engaging and we thoroughly enjoyed our journeys with Gulliver to all the magical lands he visited. The play skillfully mixes actors, puppets and cameras on an ever evolving set that one minute is a ship, the next an island, or the court of a king or queen.

The puppets were very good and really brought the play to life. We loved the little people of Lilliput which sounded like the mice from Bagpuss and the fleet of ships that Gulliver drags across the stage and the way they created a sense of scale and proportion for when Gulliver is both a giant to the people and for when he’s small and insignificant in the land of giants. The clever use of media includes Gulliver’s giant eye as he peers through the window of a tiny house on Lilliput and an amusing shadow puppet film as he’s dragged across the island by his small captors.

The cast were great. Chris Jack as Gulliver was solid and convincing, Jim Findley and Becky Matter gave some super and humorous performances in the many parts they played and Jennifer Welwright as Molly / Glumdalclitch provided great expression and the glue that held the play together.

Sometimes the dialogue was a bit clunky with the occasional 21st Century references seeming out of place in a story set in the 1700’s but the age appropriate jokes about poo worked well and got a good few laughs. We felt the play was rather episodic, with the transitions between each of Gulliver’s journeys a little weak but overall this was a super play that didn’t disappoint as a piece of family entertainment.

In case you don’t know the story we won’t spoil it for you but a special mention must go to the horse puppets who really stole the show towards the end. From the engagement of the cast with the audience before and after the play to the easy to read programme this was a well thought out and superbly produced piece of family theatre; there are excellent online resources for schools and children too to add to the experience and get children interested in live performances. Great stuff!

Runs until June 2nd

Picture: Pamela Raith

 

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2 comments

  1. I totally agree with David Cundill’s review.

    This is an excellent production, well up to the high standards we expect of the Spark children’s arts festival. The performances, the design, the music, the adaptation – all first class. And the biting satire of the brilliant original books is still there, even if that is more likely to appeal to the parents than to children.

    Any child will love this. Especially the horses!

    It’s going on a short tour; after that, I hope it runs for years; it deserves to.

  2. I experienced the production on its very last night at Nottingham’s lakeside. It was a kind of theatrical magic that wove it’s spell over an audience wider ranging in age even than the 9+ and family that advertising indicated. Jennifer Welwright as Molly and Glumdalclitch showed great emotions – love for Gulliver and frustration at trying to connect through his insanity, Chris Jack was energetic and believable in so many strange situations that reality was suspended for a time and the others all added great variety to the production. The horses were adorable, the Yahoos crazy and the whole play over too soon as time flies when you’re having fun. 5/5