Writer: David Almond
Director: Adam Carver
Reviewer: James Garrington
Michael is unhappy. He has moved to a new part of town, his new-born baby sister is ill and his world seems to have turned upside down. Then one day he ventures into the dilapidated garage and finds a strange man, and Michael’s life changes forever.
This is the story of Skellig, the award-winning children’s novel by David Almond, performed here by Tin Robot Theatre. The cast of four share some 14 roles between them and accomplish the task of switching between some very different characters with apparent ease. Danny Hetherington is Michael and comes across well as a young boy who is on the one hand struggling to accept his situation, and on the other innocently accepting and embracing things which many older, wiser people would claim were impossible. Equally at home is Grace Hussey-Burd as Michael’s new friend Mina, the slightly precocious home-educated girl who seems to know much more about the world than Michael does.
Teddy Corbett covers the very different roles of Michael’s dad who hides his own worries to encourage Michael, and Skellig, reclusive and mysterious. Completing the cast is Jessica Dives, who manages to play both Michael and Mina’s mother as two very different characters, as well as the teachers, school friends, doctors and patients that the cast cover at different times – and despite having no changes of costume to help create a character, they are all very convincing.
The production is underpinned by some nicely appropriate music by Nick Charlesworth, who performs alongside the cast. It is all very slick, with the minimal scenery being moved as part of the action and so allowing the story to move along uninterrupted. This is the ideal type of production for the intimate Old Joint Stock Theatre, where the proximity helps to create a connection with the audience.
More than anything, it is the story-telling that makes this production special, as it flows from narration into characterisation and back again, each time moving the story forward and keeping the audience totally engaged. If you fancy a beautiful heart-warming story in an intimate setting for the Christmas period, then look no further than Skellig. Highly recommended, and not just for children.
Runs until 30 December 2017 | Image: Contributed