IT'S not so much the spirit of Christmas birth as of Easter resurrection that possesses this Hans Christian Andersen adaptation by Catherine Wheels. It begins, delightfully, in a farmyard-cum-maternity unit where first pig, then horse, and finally mother hen are bringing their young into the world. Two piglets wobble out from beneath Gill Robertson's skirts, a floppy foal appears in Laurie Brown's field and, after much concentration, Veronica Leer fills an egg box with little white ovals. They're followed by another the size of a football – a misfit from the start.
By Shonna Reppe. A Catherine Wheeels theatre review.
WE all like to imagine books are full of knowledge, but it is with a degree of scepticism that we regard Dr Patricia Baker when she tells us her job is to work out the stories hidden inside ancient scrapbooks. Surely this self-styled "scrapologist" in her forensic lab coat has little chance of making sense of the sepia photos, newspaper clippings and fading receipts she finds in the dusty old tome sitting centre stage.
By Rob Evans. A Catherine Wheels theatre review.
BEAUTY AND the Beast is an allegory about the union between a man and a woman. On the one hand, we have the beast, a symbol of maleness at its most extreme: hairy, aggressive and emotionally illiterate. On the other, we have Beauty, the epitome of those traditionally feminine qualities of compassion, empathy and love. Thrown together in a castle in the Freudian darkness of a mysterious wood, they slowly learn from each other and, in so doing, experience a romantic awakening.
By Andy Manley. A Catherine Wheels review.
SOMETIMES the simplest ideas are the most powerful. As you would expect in a show aimed at two-to-four year olds, White does not take long to explain. It's about two men who live in an all-white world, looking after the all-white eggs they keep in all-white birdhouses. Everything is all right with all white until – shock! – a fresh egg shows up and it is all red. Much to the men's dismay, their universe is about to turn into colour.
By Rob Evans. A Catherine Wheels review.
THE way this show by Edinburgh's Catherine Wheels is set out, you get a good chance to look at the audience. The younger members (it’s aimed at the 9–13 range) sit on four carpets divided by two corridors patrolled by actor Andy Manley. The less supple among us sit on benches on the perimeter of the playing area. And should your attention slip from Manley at any point, you will see that everyone, young and old alike, has the look of a wide-eyed two-year-old. It is as if Manley is a shaman, enchanting his acolytes with magical words, beguiling them into a dream-like state. They stare at him with abandonment and absorption, trusting him, needing him to complete his tale. They are under his spell.
Adapted by Rob Evans. A Catherine Wheels review.
IT takes a while to warm to this adaptation of Ben Rice's novel. For one thing, there doesn't seem to be much at stake: just an everyday family hoping to get lucky in Lighting Ridge, an opal mining town in the Australian outback. For another, the production by Catherine Wheels takes a straight-forward approach that rules out the kind of imaginative leaps that children's theatre does best. The initial impression of Gill Robertson's staging is of a routine domestic drama.
By E Nesbit. Catherine Wheels review.
ONE LOOK at Gill Robertson's face and you know you're in for a feelgood time. Before the show has even begun, the actor and mainstay of Catherine Wheels theatre company seems to have caught everyone in the eye and made all of us her friend. In this adaptation of a children's story by E Nesbit (of Railway Children fame), she steps in and out of character, one minute drawing us into the tale as a wide-eyed narrator, the next playing a genial nurse in charge of a boy who would be king.
By Ray Bradbury. Catherine Wheels review.
AS every reader of Pinocchio knows, there is not a boy who can resist the pull of a funfair. When the carnival comes to town it brings the promise of something magical, transgressive, illicit; the possibility of escaping everyday life for easy rewards and sensual pleasures. That is the allure of Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show when, heralded by the smell of candyfloss and a midnight lightning storm, it arrives in an Illinois backwater in Ray Bradbury's classic 1962 novel.
By the company. Catherine Wheels review.
IT'S not often you get to see two versions of Hansel and Gretel in one day. Still rarer to see two promenade productions in which you go with the neglected children into the woods. But it's that time of year when the Bank of Scotland Children's International Theatre Festival takes over and normal rules cease to apply. With performances as good as Catherine Wheels' Hansel And Gretel and Grid Iron's Once Upon A Dragon, long may the anarchy continue.
By Mike Kenny. Catherine Wheels review.
ACCORDING to a recent study, women who have been abused by their partners are disproportionately likely to identify with Cinderella. The theory is that if your role model is a submissive fairytale character, you'll believe that love alone will be enough to end your frog-prince's violent behaviour. It depends, of course, whether you've been influenced by an insipid telling of the tale or a more plucky version in which the girl wins through because of skill and ingenuity. Either way, if you think Cinderella is a dubious role model, what hope her ugly sisters? However the story is told, the pair are the very archetype of selfishness, cruelty and bad behaviour. If you're concerned about body fascism just think of the damage caused by the idea that an ugly outside equals an ugly inside.
Jo Roets. Catherine Wheels review.
ONE London critic recently described Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac as “indestructible”. I think that’s right. There’s something about this story of a swashbuckling poet cursed with an enormously ugly nose that tugs at the heart strings every time. As if to prove the point, Catherine Wheels theatre company has come up with a version that condenses a three-hour play into 70 minutes and cuts the cast list down from 30-odd to just three. Does it work? Well, I can’t vouch for the audience of ten year olds (although their attention was undoubtedly held throughout), but I certainly left with a tear in my eye.
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