Presented by Manual Cinema
Reviewed 11 March 2017
The stage set looks like the company has bought up the White Elephant stall at the local fete – odd lamps, piles of books, candlesticks, empty tins and cute hand puppets plus a bank of overhead projectors. Through a stunning combination of live action photography, overhead projection, hand and glove puppets and brilliant silhouettes the performers transform both themselves and the objects to tell the story of Philomena, vividly portrayed by Sarah Fornace, co-artistic director.
It’s no wonder 10 year old Philomena’s dreams and imagination take her to The Magic City, the place we all long for, where we feel safe and nothing bad can happen. She has already lost both her parents and is being brought up by her much older sister, Helen, when the only world she has ever known is shattered. Her heart is broken when Helen marries Brandon and on top of that she has to put up with the irritating behaviour of Lucas, Brandon’s 7 year old son.
The Magic City is of course a morality tale, as are all great stories. The motif of blended families learning to live together – and to get on – will be familiar to many audience members. Philomena chooses to rescue Lucas when he’s left behind in the city and decides to share her imaginary city Phil-Helen-ia with Lucas, despite him being an annoying little tick.
Walls, both metaphorical and actual, are a recurring theme in the story. When Philomena decides to share her city with Lucas the invisible wall around it disappears. Mayor Hammer of the The Magic City, is also building a wall, ostensibly to keep out the junk and ‘for your safety’, as the banner at the official closing of the wall proclaims – an example of how the humour in this piece works on several levels for children and adults, especially when we think about another wall being proposed ‘for your safety’.
The audience was thrilled and delighted by the images and sounds presented through a mix of old and new technologies plus great music and narration to tell us a wonderful story.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, 58 Grote Street
Season: Sat 11 Mar, 7pm
Sun 12 Mar, 2pm and 6pm
Mon 13 Mar, 2pm and 5pm
Duration: 1hr, no interval
Tickets: Adult $49
Under 30 $25