CentralChildrensDramaFamilyFestive 15/16ImmersiveReview

The Lost Gift – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

Writer: Highly Sprung
Director: Sarah Worth
Reviewer: Nicole Evans

Warwick Arts Centre’s Mead Gallery is better known for its exhibitions of sculptures, paintings or histories of university life but, for this Christmas period, there isn’t a picture to be seen as it has been transformed into a magical wintery wonderland. The Lost Gift is advertised as an “interactive walkthrough” and with both Highly Sprung and Vortex Creates involved in the production, what awaits is intriguing to say the least.
As we are handed a pair of headphones and head into the first, snow-covered, corridor, sound effects and a voice-over greet our speaker-clad ears. A couple of Winterland elves get stuck into the fake snow and direct us to put on a scarf to continue on our journey, but it all feels a bit underdone at this point and a sinking feeling of impending disappointment creeps in. Thankfully that feeling is very quickly proven to be way off the mark and, as a magical key turns and leads us to meet Squall the Christmas gift wrapper, we are transported into an immersive and imaginative theatrical experience like no other, which captures the enthusiasm of even the more reserved of children and adults alike.
Squall has lost a gift, a very, very special gift, and needs some help to find it, setting the children off on a quest to do so, as well as asking them to deliver a few presents along the way. As we are directed from one room to another we meet a diverse set of characters, all with a special job to do to make sure the Winter’s End Festival goes ahead. However, each has a problem and it’s the job of the special helpers to assist them along their journey, all of whom waste no time getting stuck in; largely thanks to the utterly captivating nature of the actors involved. As a thank you, we are shown the next step of the quest to find The Lost Gift and the sight of excited little ones eager to get to the next room is certainly one to behold.
Can The Lost Gift be found in time? Or has it been there all along?
With superb staging, fabulous sound effects and heart-warmingly gentle interaction from the actors, the whole concept of The Lost Gift is nothing short of an outstanding creation and is executed almost perfectly, with the only criticism being that the intervals between groups need to be a little longer to avoid overhearing the previous/next room as we move through.
Leaving every child feeling treasured and with a beautiful moral to the story, it is a wonderful addition to the usual festive theatre calendar and will awaken the magic in everyone. Not to be missed.
Runs until 31 December 2015 | Image: Contributed

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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