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Hans Christian Andersen at St Nicolas’ Church, Guildford

I feel so comfortable here in this large airy Church, seating is socially distanced and face mask compliance is at a level that some large West End theatres would be looking at with envy. Tales from Hans Christian Andersen is obviously aimed at families and an early start time of 6.30pm has been arranged so bedtime is not too late.

GSC Tales from HCA 'Princess & the Pea' James Camp and Annabelle Terry (c) Matt Pereira.
GSC Tales from HCA ‘Princess & the Pea’ James Camp and Annabelle Terry (c) Matt Pereira.

The stories begin with The Little Match Girl, (Sara Hazemi) who is homeless and looking for somewhere warm and safe to spend the night. She takes refuge in a church and is disturbed by a man (James Camp) who comes in to mend a window broken in the storm. He becomes her companion for the rest of the evening and guides us through a series of stories that begin whenever a match is struck. Sara and James with the other cast members, Jonathan Oldfield, and Annabelle Terry between them play all the parts in the many tales told this evening. Some are very familiar: The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina, others are not so well known: The Puppet Showman and The Darning-Needle.

The whole cast seems to be loving performing in this production, it is ridiculously silly at times and the singing and visual comedy is brilliant. As each story unfolds I keep changing my mind about who the best singer, dancer and actor is. It is impossible to choose, each cast member takes a turn at being the best, although I do have to particularly praise Sara and Annabelle’s singing and Jonathan’s comedic acting.

The artistic team have done an amazing job with this production. They have to be very inventive to work in the performance spaces that GSC use, often in Churches or similar they have to devise everything to fit into these unique spaces. I particularly enjoyed the ducklings hatching and the pile of mattresses for the Princess to sleep on. Music is very important in this production and if anyone is the star it has to be Tom Jack Merivale, he has written the music and song lyrics for the production and he and writer Ant Stones have taken a collection of old stories and created magic. This is a delightful production, 100% fun. Thank goodness GSC are back.

5 Star Rating

Review by Sally Knipe

Tales from Hans Christian Andersen is a brand-new adaptation of some of the best-loved stories we have all grown up with, featuring an original score and songs. It weaves together seven tales, brought to life by 4 actors playing 42 characters.

Staged in the heart of Guildford in the Victorian St Nicolas’ Church, the show follows in the 5-star footsteps of Alice in Wonderland and Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The perfect family half-term treat!

TALES FROM HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
16 Oct – 06 Nov
St Nicolas’ Church, Guildford
https://www.guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk/

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