Review of the Everyman’s Old Curiosity Shop

‘And so do things pass away like a tale that is told.’

Well not the tale of The Old Curiosity Shop at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre – This wonderful heartfelt production won’t be forgotten soon.

This new adaptation of the Dickens’ classic by Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company cleverly weaves live music, songs and puppetry alongside a story that is both bleak and beautiful. The four actors are faultless and evoke so many different emotions from the audience in the short play.

Running until Sunday 23 December 2018 in the Everyman’s intimate studio theatre, the show breathes new life into Charles Dickens’ beautifully tragic tale; the story follows Nell, a young girl who lives with her beloved grandfather in his shop of curiosities. When Nell and her grandfather have to run away, they have only each other and have to face new challenges together.

Liyah Summers plays the innocent and good Nell beautifully, while actors Perry Moore, Rosamund Hine and Ian Harris, skilfully play the parts of multiple characters. Hine as the comical Mrs Jarley is fantastic and the puppetry of Quilp is both eerie and menacing.

 

The Old Curiosity Shop was originally published in weekly instalments, but proved so popular it was published as Dickens’ fourth novel in 1841. This adaptation, ‘holds on to the absolute essence and heart of the original tale, re-imagining the narrative into a fast-paced rollercoaster of joy and tragedy.’

Although not a Christmas tale, the director Bryn Holding said, ‘I do believe that by the end of this tale you will want to reach out and hold onto your loved ones a little tighter this Christmas – which for me is the true heart of all our Christmas festivities.’

There are some lovely quotes during the performance, ‘Let us walk through country places and sleep in fields and under trees, and never think of money again. And when you are tired, you shall stop to rest in the pleasantest place that we can find.’ Hammerpuzzle’s The Old Curiosity Shop certainly transported me to a pleasant place and most of the audience.  If anything, I just wanted more of it – I could have sat and watched a longer version. Maybe I’ll just read the book!

There is a British Sign Language interpreted performance of The Old Curiosity Shop on Saturday 15th December at 2.30pm. There is a ‘Relaxed Performance’ on Thursday 20th December at 2.30pm.

The Old Curiosity is nearly sold out at Cheltenham but the play is being performed in January at The King’s Theatre, Gloucester and The Roses in Tewkesbury.

This production is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

 

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