If you are looking for a great family show then may I suggest Jacqueline Wilson’s, Hetty Feather as a wonderful treat! I took my family along to the Rose Theatre, Kingston and we had a fantastic time. My sixteen year old daughter and her fourteen year old cousin have been fans of Jacqueline Wilson for a long time, devouring each of her books with relish. However that also makes them tricky and highly critical customers when it comes to the appreciation of a stage adaptation. They weren’t to be disappointed. The set was a simple and colourful take on a circus ‘big top’ complete with trapeze. It caught your imagination from the start and was cleverly manipulated by the actors to create different moods and scenes.
The story (without giving too much away) centres on the antics of Hetty Feather. Hetty is a vivacious red headed foundling given up by her impoverished mother to be brought up in The Foundling Hospital. It is here that she endures the wrath of the terrifying Matron Stinking Bottomly and a dismal night locked in an eerie attic room. Escaping the strict regime of the hospital she braves the scary streets of Victorian London in search of her mother.
The energetic performances given by an extremely talented cast of actors really engaged the children and adults alike from the beginning. It was only a small cast but each member played a number of different roles. However never once did you become confused by the changes as each actor cleverly crafted a very clear character for each of their roles. They even managed, with the help of simple stage props, to become believable horses and a circus elephant. This show had everything – laughter, tragedy, pathos, fear and fun in ample proportions. The acrobatics and music only added to a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Full marks to Emma Reeves for her clever adaptation and Sally Cookson for her wonderful direction. A quick survey of the parents and children attending the Press Night performance was very positive. I asked ten year old Amber what she thought and she said, “I love it – it’s very true to the book and I really enjoyed the circus horses”. Eleven year old Max was also enthusiastic and particularly enjoyed the historical dimension to the play.
I hadn’t been to the Rose Theatre in Kingston before but I would again. The staff were friendly and helpful and the six year old theatre is modern and well appointed. The theatre has padded bench type seats which are shared between two people. These are comfortable and roomy without the encumbrance of arm rests. It also appeared that the facilities for disabled patrons were of a high standard and offered easy access. At the front of the auditorium there was a space for customers to sit on the floor on cushions. This seemed to prove very popular with the smallest children as they were very close to the action.
Review by Liz Lickiss
Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather
Adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves and Directed by Sally Cookson
Roll up and join Hetty on her escape from the Foundling Hospital. Tremble as she faces Matron Stinking Bottomly. Thrill as she discovers the squirrel house and Tanglefields Travelling Circus. Gasp as she endures a night locked in the attic. Quake as she braves the scary streets of Victorian London and cheer as she overcomes all in her search to find her real mother and a true family of her own.
From best-selling author Jacqueline Wilson, the tale of plucky Hetty Feather is brought thrillingly to life on stage for the Rose Theatre by award winning script writer Emma Reeves (CBBC’s The Story of Tracy Beaker) and the Olivier Award Nominated Director Sally Cookson, whose many five star productions include Peter Pan, We’re Going on a Bearhunt and Stick Man.
With live music, circus skills and a huge heart, Hetty Feather is a terrific adventure story – the perfect Easter treat for the whole family.
Cast: PHOEBE THOMAS Hetty Feather, MATT COSTAIN Jem/Matron Bottomly, SARAH GODDARD Peg/Ida, PAUL MUNDELL Gideon, ISAAC STANMORE Saul, NIKKI WARWICK Madame Adeline, SEAMUS H. CAREY Tue 25th March – Tuesday 1st April Musician, LUKE POTTER Musician, JENNANE REDMAN Understudy/Assistant Stage Manager
Age guidance 7+
Sat 5th April to Sat 19th April
Friday 11th April 2014