Animals

There May Be a Castle review – a dark and wild adventure | Stage

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IChristmas Eve with little mouse and his family on their way to grandpa. Outside, it’s snowing. But this family show isn’t going where you might expect. Adapted from Pierce Torday’s book – and in typical Torday style – it is a dark and wild adventure. There’s a horrific incident, real tragedy (it brought me to tears), live talking animals, and a pretty ridiculous lyricist. It will leave your kids excited and a little scared, full of questions about life and death that they might never have found a way to ask without this special story.

Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane have retained all the weirdness and sophistication of Torday’s book and also woven into some subtle songs. Mouse (Stacey Read) is a young girl in this theatrical version, and as she ventures through the woods, in search of a castle and her lost family, her songs sound gritty and hopeful but also fragile and heartbreaking.

There may be a castle.
Hope and courage..may there be a castle. Photography: Eli Kurtz

Judith Hope dolls are totally compelling and fantastically charming. Mouse pony toy transforms into a life-size companion: plush and purple, plush and large. The talking sheep looks as if it has been skipped straight from a nearby field, and as the Mouse nears the end of its quest, a spinning-headed magician provides one last visible appearance.

The cast works incredibly hard, jumping between multiple roles, controlling countless puppets and producing carefully-tuned moments of comedy, pathos and fear. As a director, Lynn uses space with real skill and opens up the back of the stage. Here the increasingly anxious grandfather makes a series of calls to the police. The young audience spins as one, eager not to miss a moment of their story.

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