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‘The Enchanted Forest’ // Crucible Productions

‘The Enchanted Forest’ was pure.

The friendly atmosphere of the Donald Simpson Community Centre was the perfect space for Crucible Production’s latest show, ‘The Enchanted Forest’.

The welcoming foyer led to a large hall where chairs were set out and cushions covered the front section so that smaller people could be comfortable and see, which often can be a problem with theatre for young people.

The forty-five minute show, written and produced by Suze Harper, was the right length for its intended audience. The story centres on a troll, named Holger, who wants what most villains want — power. To gain control of the enchanted forest and overthrow Queen Hrahn, he steals treasured possessions from the forest folk. As the story progresses, the audience learns that Holger isn’t actually all that evil — he’s just a smelly troll with no friends who is misguided in his ambitions. The show has messages about kindness and redemption as Holger sets about mending broken relationships through the power of forgiveness.

Trevor Sammon opened the show in the character of the ‘Troll’. He greeted the audience, interacting with the young people and asking questions, which set the tone for the show. Sammon confidently and bravely battled the audience’s questions and sometimes unexpected answers, utilising the whole of the downstage space to include everyone. As the fearsome Troll, Sammon mixed comedic facial expressions and an acappella, almost surreal song, to balance the character and not terrify the audience.

Maya Aldred and Jamie Edwards as the pixies, ‘Stem’ and ‘Petal’, had great diction for young performers and had some nice moments of physicality. Kath Fraser, as Fable (the narrator) held the show together and had the audience on her side.

Melissa McArthur entered through the audience as the commanding Queen, a character that was vital to the resolution of the plot. Carly Phillips and Sarah Aldred as the trees, ‘Willow’ and ‘Birch’ completed the cast. Mention must be made of the united and visually appealing costuming my Margaret Laurence. The headpieces for the trees were particularly impressive.

Theatre for young people is deceptively difficult to stage. The audience can be the toughest critics, are often rowdy and regularly refuse to remain seated. The cast are to be congratulated on the volume and clarity of their voices in the large space. At times, the pace of the delivery of lines could have been sharper and more physical humour would have enhanced audience engagement. Overall, the story was sweet, and the audience were appreciative.

Crucible Productions was established in 2022 and has a mission of delivering affordable, family entertainment and providing actors with opportunities to improve their stagecraft. They also aim to showcase original works. ‘The Enchanted Forest’ had a fresh innocence and is one of the very few original children’s theatre pieces that has been produced in a community setting, this year. With affordable ticket prices, Crucible Productions have made theatre accessible to young people who may never get to see a live production.

‘The Enchanted Forest’ performs until Sunday 5th November at The Donald Simpson Community Centre in Cleveland. Tickets are available through TryBooking.

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