Wednesday, 3 February 2016

"Hetty Feather" by Jacqueline Wilson
Nottingham Theatre Royal

Hetty Feather is about a young girl who is abandoned by her mother at the Foundling Hospital as a baby and follows her story as she lives in a foster home before returning to the Foundling Hospital as a 5-year-old. She's on a quest to find her real mother and thinks it's a circus performer called Madame Adeline. When she discovers that the red hair connection isn't quite as accurate as she thought, she meets a brick wall, until she runs away to London.

A cast of relative unknowns dazzled the audience with circus skills and enraptured us with their aerial acrobatics, showing that today's theatre, and actors, now offer such a variety of skills. So much more than just acting and being able to remember the lines. Add to this a beautiful heart-warming story, which at times really hits home the seriousness of Victorian fostering and the way that children were treated at that time. there's the love between the children who are thrown together to make a make-shift family and the poor health system, resulting in the loss of life at the hospital.

There's a very serious side to this story but that's not to say that there's not a great deal of humour created by the "children", because there is and it's a very simplistic humour that everyone can enjoy.

Music plays a large part of the play and Seamus H Carey and Luke Potter provide the folky soundtrack live on stage, blending traditional folk songs like "Over The Hills And Far Away" to a folk tinged version of Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" for the strongman scene, which has one of the most ironic of characters ever.

There's a big technical team behind this production. Director Sally Cookson has an army of backstage crew, not least the aerial director, Gwen Hales, who created the magical aerialist sections. The set itself, designed by Katie Sykes, looked like a giant playground climbing frame but enabled all the wonderful aerial pieces to look spectacular.

A wonderful performance was put in by Phoebe Thomas as Hetty, whose energy levels, fitness and core strength was enviable. in fact all the actors, who doubled in many parts, provided incredibly athletic and graceful performances.

it's a show that you can take your six year old to as well as your ninety-six year old to and both get the same level of entertainment and enjoyment levels from. It's magical, breath-taking, educational and heart-warming and is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 6 February 2016.

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