Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Review: A Wilde Christmas

Review: A Wilde Christmas

A Wilde Christmas | Remenham riverside | December 18 and 19

“IT was a dark and stormy night” are the opening lines of A Wilde Christmas by the Acorn Music Theatre Company and this was very much the case during the group’s outdoor promenade performance in Remenham just before Christmas.

Despite the rain, the multi-talented ensemble cast managed to attract a large and stalwart audience. Fortified by mulled wine and apple juice, they were treated to a magical and enchanting evening.

Paris Ferguson presented a tour de force with his singular rendition of “The Big Bad Pig” as he led the cast and audience on a fairytale tour of Remenham — from the garden of the Old School House, into the graveyard and then down to the moonlit river before returning to the garden.

Using physical theatre and exquisite original live music, the cast performed some of Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories along with some other old favourites as follows.

The Selfish Giant, performed and devised by a combination of the oldest cast members and the very youngest — Elsa and Ariana Niedhuszinska aged five and seven — is a beautiful story where it is always winter in the giant’s garden until the children come to play in it. Performed with a backdrop designed by artist Hannah Firmin, the combination of very large giant (George Hyde) and very tiny children added even more charm.

In the graveyard of the church, with kind permission from the vicar, the smallest Acorns performed The Night I Was Chased by a Vampire. These young people impressed with their focus and commitment.

The original music, written and sung by Sophie Stone (10), Elodie Jones (10), Lorelei Southwell (eight), Lola Spottiswood-Brown (10) Alfie Judge (10) and Will Harding (eight), was performed beautifully despite the daunting conditions. Winking lights along the path and the moonlight on the river, drew the audience to the saddest and most exquisite of Wilde’s stories, The Happy Prince.

Hauntingly and powerfully told by the ensemble cast led by the clear, melodic voice of Oliver Clark as the Prince and Lexi Jennings, who delicately encapsulated the Swallow, it was heartbreaking and full of pathos. Special mention should also go to Molly Connerty as the seamstress and the achingly sad music of Eleanor Whittle, Seb Colam and Rees.

The final story of The Princess and the Pea was suitably riotous and anarchic, with unruly mattresses telling the story.

In a strong cast, Hannah Swaddling needs a special mention — and a stroppy princess played vivaciously by Caitlin Brown and the Prince played by Caspar Good, ably supported by George Hyde as the Queen and Annabel Hems as the King.

The Acorn Music Theatre Company is a charity promoting the creative arts education of young people and can be found performing in the fields, barns and gardens of South Oxfordshire.

A Wilde Christmas was performed with the kind permission of the Brown Family, Copas Farms and Remenham Church and further supported by Henley Sign People and No Sweat.

Mary Murphy

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