Tin Soldier, Royal Exchange Theatre Studio, Manchester
Friday 31 December 2010
"Sometimes a song is better than a tear; sometimes a song can rescue us from fear," which is certainly the case with the catchy score in this vivid production of Noël Greig's dark but gripping take on the tale of the steadfast Tin Soldier. The story of the one-legged misfit, moulded – along with 25 apparently perfect tin soldiers – from an old metal spoon, was originally an 1838 tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
The gallant warrior undergoes trials involving a wicked troll, a vicious rat, an enormous hungry fish and some selfish little boys as he follows his destiny. That journey, through water, wind and fire, takes him in pursuit of a paper ballerina with whom he falls hopelessly in love.
It doesn't end well but, when delivered as engagingly as in this 50-minute adaptation, it certainly captures the imagination and has its young audience fired up by the miniature marching men, scanning the darkness for the hilltop castle and trying to see the swishing paper boat carrying away the tin soldier. Lewis Gibson's evocative soundscape, played out on tinkling bells, toy piano and miniature drum kit, also has them mesmerised.
Actor Gary Lagden gives a compelling account of the Tin Soldier's colourful experiences. There's nothing in the way of props, no costumes, no representative tin soldiers, no beautiful ballerina, no scorching flames. It's all in the mind's eye, thrillingly fashioned in Lagden's physical creation of each individual element of the narrative, in Greig's poetic script and in the bittersweet instrumental score and songs.
The musicians change positions, altering the configuration on the stage and also the relationship between audience and performers, the simple setting suiting the pared-down scale of a tale that can be appreciated on many levels. For five-year-old Pascal Walker it was the rhythmic pizzazz of the tiny tin army, the brave soldier's quest for the romance of his short life and the valiant endurance of a remarkable little fighter that seemed to make their mark.
Today & tomorrow 1.30pm (0161 833 9833)
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
How to read Will Self: Unlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain