"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Monday, November 11, 2013
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
WHISTLE DOWN THE
at the Cramphorn Theatre
A far cry from
Malcolm Arnold to Andrew Lloyd Webber, from Lancashire to Louisiana,
where religion and innocence were both very different. But this
intimate staging of Whistle Down the Wind did capture the essence of
the original tale, even if we couldn't share the children's faith
that their Jesus would survive the apocalyptic Christmas Bonfire.
The simple timber
staging suggested barn and homestead, bold lighting took us to the
tunnel and the revivalist meeting, bare feet and a fishing line
effortlessly evoked the creek. The Southern drawl proved a problem;
not for the first time it was the children – veterans of The Sound
of Music - who mastered it best: Charlotte Golden's Brat, Matthew
Scott's Poor Baby, and Katy Forkings' superb Swallow. Brilliantly
cast, her slight frame so vulnerable against the bulk of The Man, her
pure voice with a hint of the warm timbre of maturity.
brought honesty and huge presence to the convict Christ, struggling
with his parables and his conscience; Colin Shoard gave a moving
portrait of the single parent caught between his children's naivety
and the lynch mob in the village.
performances too from Aaron Crowe as Amos, Bethan Anderson as his
Candy, and Ross Rogers as Edward, leading the cast in Cold, one of
the better numbers in a patchy score. The old Lloyd Webber magic is
still there, though not always well served by lacklustre lyrics.
The staging made
the most of the space – the people gathering for worship at the
start, the children's offerings and the adults' offensive weapons
tellingly juxtaposed for the Act One finale. But when The Man was
“lying low” he was invisible to most of the audience, and it was
distracting to have the screens and the bike manhandled behind the
Whistle Down The
Wind was directed by Andrew Shepherd with Fiona Lipscomb, the
choreographer was Olivia Gooding, and the MD, up above the action
with his excellent band, was Ian Myers.