Ever wish that you could get rid of some of your emotions? Feel only the good things in life, never sadness or fear? Fabletop Theatre can give you an insight into what that would be like in their production of The Girl and the Box presented as part of the Camden Fringe Festival at the Etcetera Theatre.
As with all good fables, this begins with a narrator (Jack Carmichael) who, whilst avoiding fairy tale cliches, starts the story by introducing us to our heroine – called Hero (Jess Neale) – who enjoys a wonderful time with her father until one day, he dies and she experiences unimaginable grief and unspeakable pain at his demise. A stranger appears and offers to take all of the negative feelings she has away forever. This she agrees to but soon after the deal has been done, she realises she has made a mistake and tries to get her feelings back. Of course, it is never easy to undo a deal once it has been finalised and the girl is told that in order to get her feelings, she must go on a quest involving fear, near death experiences and encounters with a range of creatures (Hannah Abbott, Aaron Baker, Isobel Pilkington and Jesselyn Verity) who assist or hinder in her search.
Now, I am all for an adult fairy tale – these things are often wasted on children – and I really enjoyed this one. Yes, the story is fairly simple but the presentation is so enjoyable, you don’t notice it. The cast are equally superb and produce some amazing scenes and memorable moments as they tell the story. Costumes and set are minimal, variations of a blue boilersuit for the cast and a clothesline with various oddments on it that provided props and scenery. However, once more these minimalistic elements added to the enjoyment of the whole presentation. Without giving too much away, some of my favourite bits were the undersea swimming, the cave creatures and the four-headed creature which was just fantastic as a storytelling device as well as looking pretty impressive so full credit to the cast for that.
Whilst on that subject, I have to give praise to Jack Carmichael who not only sings well but has a wonderful narration style and voice that I could have listened to for hours. If ever they do an adult Jackanory, he needs to be signed up to read the stories. The rest of the cast were equally fantastic and it was interesting watching them. Even when not directly involved in a scene they were all on the stage and it was obvious watching them watch the action that there was real affection between the team who performed so well together.
All in all, The Girl and the Box was a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting jump into the world of adult fairy stories. Whilst the overarching moral was there for wall to see, there were some lovely little pieces that left the audience to decide how they would have handled some of the situations. I would have really liked the show to be a bit longer as I thought there could have been more obstacles for Hero to overcome before getting to where she needed to be, but the whole production was really charming and enjoyable. A lovely theatrical piece that will leave you smiling as you leave the world of Hero and re-enter, albeit reluctantly, the real world.
Review by Terry Eastham
Fabletop Theatre tells the story of Hero after she meets a mysterious stranger who takes away all of her bad feelings. Over the years she realises that without sadness, she doesn’t know what it means to be truly happy. Without fear, how can she know how to be brave? This is a show for grown ups and growing ups about the things that make us human.