Last night Katy of Chichester Copywriter went to the opening night of Swallows and Amazons at Chichester Festival Theatre. Since she’s not read the 1930 classic by Arthur Bransome, it was not only interesting for Katy to see that latest local theatre production to come direct from the West End but it was also a treat to see how the plot unfolded.
As you may know, Katy writes books for children so she has a keen interest in children’s fiction, particularly books like Swallows and Amazon’s which have had such an impact on young lives. In fact, Katy’s partner Pete, who is a sailing instructor, was totally mesmerised by the performance last night saying it reminded him of all the fun and adventure that inspired him to learn to sail originally.
This Bristol Old Vic production of Swallows and Amazons was described by the Daily Telegraph as: “Warm-hearted, affectionate and fun. A terrific production,” This is a statement that our creative copywriter totally agrees with.
The casting was imaginative; adults were cast to play the roles of all the children – John, Susan, Titty, Roger, Nancy and Peggy – and this was done with both humour and creativity. Casting the largest actor in the role of the youngest child was pure genius; it was not only very amusing but also convincing.
The use of props and sound was innovative too. While the children looked through their telescope a member of the cast held up a circular wooden frame and used props to suggest what the child was seeing. Members of the orchestra became part of the action on stage and, when not playing instruments, they moved the set around, joined in singing and dancing, took on minor parts and generally lent an extra pair of hands. They even helped to create sounds without using their instruments. For example, clicking and clapping the hands was very effective when portraying the crackle of a newly lit fire.
Close to the end of the play, a model of each boat was sent through the audience. The models looked just like they were riding the waves and the chance for some audience participation brought delight to younger faces. This wasn’t just a performance for kids though; this production of Swallows and Amazons would bring delight to all ages.
If you haven’t yet got tickets for this production then don’t miss out! It runs until Saturday 21st January at Chichester Festival Theatre and you can book tickets online.