Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Classic is kept brilliantly in perspective

WITH a cast and creative team made up of members of the close-knit arts network at

WITH a cast and creative team made up of members of the close-knit arts network at South Hill Park in Bracknell, my two sons and I were delighted by this community theatre presentation of Mary Norton’s Fifties classic The Borrowers.

We entered a world with tiny people living under the floorboards, sharing a house with regular “human beans” from whom they “borrowed” the everyday things they needed to get by.

When the focus moved to the tiny Clock family, this was accompanied by the ticking seconds of a clock — a helpful device (along with the lighting) to neatly switch our attention from the big people on the upper level of the household to the little people on the lower level.

The attention to detail in this landscape of miniature utensils and furniture was wonderful, with drawing-pin parasols, thimble stools and cotton-reel tables.

The little people — young Arrietty, played by Emma Harris, and her parents, Homily (Caroline Loveys) and Pod (Chris Hilldebrandt) — talked about other Borrowers who had emigrated to a nearby badger sett.

Pod agreed with Homily that Arrietty could join him on an excursion above the floorboards but she ended up conversing with The Boy, one of the bigger people.

Their conversation was illustrated to us through clever use of a lightbox and an animated puppet silhouette, resulting in some great optical illusions. I was moved by Arrietty’s plight — wanting to flee the nest and experience the wider world while her mother wanted to keep her cocooned and protected within the relatively safe confines of their home — until fate stepped in.

The first half ended on a cliffhanger after some trickery through the floorboards, which we could see from both vantage points — the big person poking a tiny screwdriver while simultaneously we see the giant screwdriver from the perspective of the terrified tiny people.

The props and costumes had all been lovingly prepared to add little drops of magic and sparkle, interspersed throughout the show.

My two boys were enchanted by the appearance of snow (fantastically effective with just paper and lighting), the giant boot and the woodland creatures, such as a crow and a grasshopper.

A pinch of concentration was required of the little ones in the audience, but while my two children did monkey around for a while, they were soon drawn back in to the story — my older son declaring it “brilliant”.

A little gem of a production.

Review: Natalie Aldred

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