Friday, 13 September 2019

Wise Children

And so to the theatre. I have been rather remiss so far this year in posting theatre reviews. Amongst those I have overlooked was what was the best thing I have seen for years. Emma Wilson, following her abrupt departure from The Globe (she directed amongst others 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and 'Twelfth Night') set up her own company. Their first production was an adaptation of Angela Carter's last novel 'Wise Children' and she also chose that name for the company. 'Wise Children', the play, was a simply wonderful mixture of music, dance and drama, spanning several decades in the life of twin chorus girls with they and other characters being played by multiple artists (of both genders) - and indeed puppets - as they aged.

I therefore jumped at the chance to see the next production of Wise Children,the company, despite it being an otherwise unattractive sounding adaptation of 'Malory Towers', a series of Enid Blyton books for children about a girl's boarding school.

And I'm glad that I did, because it once again turned out to be an absolute treat, this time with cartoon-like animations adding an extra dimension to the singing and energetic movement of the cast. I've never read the books, so can't comment on fidelity to the original. Here it was done as a sort of fluffier version of 'Lord of the Flies', with a group of children (all the actors obviously being adults) left alone but in this case choosing kindness and harmony rather than the opposite.

It was a summer of adaptations of children's books from the mid twentieth century, because I had a couple of months ago seen 'Swallows and Amazons', also recreated by adult actors. Arthur Ransome is more to my taste as an author than Blyton and not just because he married Trotsky's secretary. In fact I have quite recently read 'Great Northern?', the last of the books in the Swallows and Amazons series, which I had unaccountably never managed to read as a child. This play was also very well done, with the representation on stage of the sailing of small dinghies across a large lake being simple but very effective. As with the novels the best part went to Nancy Blackett; one can see why Ransome named his own boat after her.


  1. Wise children was one of the best pieces of theatre that I have ever seen,it was a fantastic mix, not a musical but a theatre piece with music and a splendid adaptation as well.
    Best Iain

    1. I can't disagree with that; it was very good indeed.