DramaFamilyNorth East & YorkshireReview

Wintry Tales – Live Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writer: Rory Mullarkey

Director: Becky Morris

A wintry white stage stocked with Christmas pines greets you on entering the theatre – very festive (Aileen Kelly). The two actors, Alice Faith and Bridget Marumo, peer round and cautiously enter the stage. They then act out six tales, taking on all the characters, from polar bears, robots, elves, humans and more besides.

The first, Sophie’s New Best Friend, is about friendship between a polar bear and a shark – talking animals, kids love that; second Trouble at the Toy Factory involves an elves revolt at work; third, An Uneventful Afternoon, well there is one event! Fourth Snow In Asda where two friends experience real snow in the supermarket; fifth Made of Money about a mega rich man who wishes to be above everyone and finally, In The Wings Of The Stage, taken from Shakespeare’s ”all the world is a stage”. This takes place in the wings of the stage, stage of the world where wishes can come true, if you really believe – a tale to warm your heart.

Award winning Rory Mullarkey, who wrote this world premiere, complied the stories based on workshops with 7 to 11-year-olds from Saint Paul’s C of E Primary School, Newcastle, Caedmon Primary School, Gateshead, and Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Sunderland, along with a small group of home-schooled pupils from the Newcastle area; generously supported by The Gillian Dickinson Trust.

Various props are retrieved from the boxes on set, which are used as furniture as well. Faith and Marumo are as engaging as the characters allow them to be. The stories are directed at adults as well as the children, indeed there are more reactions from the older members of the audience. While this production is advertised for 4+ much of the content may be beyond them, indeed the youngest contributors were seven, nearly twice the age.

Apart from some language, such as mythical and triumphantly, being inaccessible, young children need more than words to engage them for any time. “I don’t understand a single word you are saying” says one of the characters, which applies to many younger ones in the audience. There are animated reactions to some sound effects and more would be good; excited responses to props like a cucumber and sunglasses, simple things yet many opportunities for more are lost. There is a detailed description of the rich man but no visual evidence, when a jacket, waistcoat, even scarf covered in notes or coins would give younger ones visual interest, when their concentration wanes.

There are three shows a day so plenty of opportunities to see one. 55 minutes of six different tales, while called wintry, the last one will certainly warm your heart.

Runs until 23rd December 2022.

The Reviews Hub Score

Wintry but warming

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. 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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