Thursday, 8 October 2015

'The Ugly Duckling"
The Neville Suite, Nottingham Playhouse.

In conjunction with Combat Bullying, this is the ideal play for this cause, and you know until I read this, it never crossed my mind to make that connection. The ugly brown duckling who was shunned and tormented and made to feel bad about itself for the way it looked. To hide away from everyone, embarrassed about how they looked. This unfortunately is a scenario that happens every day all over the world with 50% of all young people stating that they've been bullied at school.

It's a very innocent play with a serious message but gives a positive outcome which can be used in everyday society, whatever the age.

Theatre for the young not only provides an excellent confidence booster and a way to express themselves, but it also gives them the social skills to grow up with as well as developing a talent and nurturing a love for performing and theatre in general, It's a win-win situation all round.

The story's told through the characters and through Hans Christian Anderson as he is sat in his study, working on his stories. Anderson played confidently by Bradley Price, who also plays the part of the grown up swan at the end.

With a further cast of 14 children, the story is told, mainly through dance and expression and is lovely to watch these youngsters taking early steps into performing, but more importantly, looking like they're enjoying what they're doing. The big smiles on their faces at the end to the rapturous applause seems to be all the thanks they needed. There's great energy and enthusiasm shown by all the performers.

Costume wise, some of the children are dressed in school uniform or casually, while others wear black leggings and T-Shirts with quotes from the script adorning them. Hans though dressed for the period of the book's conception. The costumes giving ultimate freedom for movement, which was directed by movement director Joel Daniel.

Subtle lighting of the Neville Suite performance area was done effectively by Martin Curtis, who was also responsible for the unobtrusive sound effects and design. The subtlety wafting musical images in and out of your ears and mind.

Please also take note of the music at the start, end and throughout the show because it was specially written for the play by young Italian, Luca Natali Stradivari. Wonderfully relaxing and evocative.

Directed by Nikki Disney, this is a lovely short piece of theatre, lasting just half an hour, which is a delight for all ages.

"The Ugly Duckling" is hiding, but not for long, in The Neville Studios at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 10 October 2015.

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