Children’s Theatre: Swallows and Amazons
Venue: York Theatre Royal
Dates: Until August 24 2019
Review by: Julia Pattison
What an absolute delight York Theatre Royal’s summer show, Swallows and Amazons was, an action-packed adventure, and a fitting farewell to Artistic Director Damien Cruden who co-directed this, his last production with John R Wilkinson, after being at the helm for 22 years.
This iconic Arthur Ransome children’s novel was brilliantly adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson, and brought vividly to life by a superb ensemble cast and creative team.
The wonderful music by Neil Hannon was the wind beneath the wings of the cast who took us (children and “barbarians” alike!) soaring high into an exciting imaginary world.
The children (all played most convincingly by adults) took us with them on their adventures all over designer Katie Sykes’ beautifully spacious set, which created a mood that captured the memory of childhood holidays, and a heady sense of freedom.
The playfulness of the bobbing boats, and the naughty bird puppets was a joy to experience, as was the enthusiasm of the children, particularly young Roger (William Pennington) whose character you couldn’t help but take to your heart.
Music Director Kieran Buckeridge, along with his crew, ensured that this quality production was like “a wonderful live gig“ demonstrating actor-musicianship at its very best, and no doubt inspiring young audience members to take up an instrument.
The swash-buckling scene involving Swallows and Amazons and amongst other things, a hilarious cushion fight, was a real highlight, summing up the sense of playfulness created throughout the whole show.
As always, with a York Theatre Summer production, there’s an opportunity for creative play outside, in the Theatre’s garden, where a wooden ship waits invitingly for young people to imaginatively sail those tempting seven seas – a wonderful free facility for families to enjoy.
A delightfully imaginative, uplifting production, perfect for a family treat in the summer holidays.