A Potter About The Castle

Theatre Severn,

Shrewsbury Castle,

Quantum Theatre Presents,

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit.

August 4th 2022

Although the castle makes a magical setting for theatre there are a couple of pitfalls that have to be taken in consideration.

Firstly, it is important that when staging the playing angle the low hot and blinding Sun needs taking into consideration. One understands it’s a problem if the stage has it’s back to the Sun, then it will shine in the eyes of the audience, for shine read ferocious blinding. If, however they play it the other way, so the audience has their backs to the Sun, then naturally the sun will blind the actors. The answer is to angle it Northwest to Southeast. That would help.

The second trap is audibility some actors cannot be heard without microphones, an actor’s skill is projection, as actors are now used to hidden PA systems in theatres there is nothing assisting them here but pure human vocality. If it is wrong, the show may suffer.

So, to Peter Rabbit, the favourite little rabbit created by the bucolic Beatrix Potter. Both initially mentioned traps, offered problems and the show did suffer slightly for it.

What is crucial to say is this is a great show. It’s target audience, (Toddlers 4 to 8) engaged well with the characters, and they didn’t struggle with the narrative. It might have been slightly too long for the very young, but the over fours were thoroughly engaged in the show. Towards the end a lot of children had reached the end of their attention span and were starting to fidget slightly.

The show itself is well written, and excellently performed. The cast had not only to act in mask but they had to sing and dance as well. That triple threat that we have met before. They all had it. The singing was lovely with tight and well-rehearsed harmonies; and the narrative was fast and flowing and had chases and confrontations all stemming around the irresistible kitchen Garden of Mr. Mc. Gregor, The dreaded Gardener and arch nemesis of Peter Rabbit.

However, whilst all this was well written and well-rehearsed, it would have benefitted from a PA system and the actors would be better served were they to use microphones. Discreetly placed on the hair line they would have saved the problems of audibility that were encountered. Some voices were strong, confidence and strident some were not and that was slightly irritating, trying to guess what was being said. If one is playing outdoors one should project to the furthest away spot that you can see anything falling between that and you would be able to hear all that was being said. Sadly that didn’t work so well and a lot of dialogue was lost as were song lyrics. Even the actor’s with the stronger voices were lost when they turned their back.

However, that said one has never seen a bunch of children so excited and having so much fun. They ooo’d and ahhhhh’d in all the right places and even warned peter of any imminent danger. They were clearly engaged and having great fun. Children have a wonderful ability to immerse themselves wholly in a show and if that is the case they react with volume when they are expected to . There was a lot of that. Well done, Quantum

As for run time one might be inclined to shave a little off. The very young were losing interest and consequently taking up all the parent’s time and efforts. Parents need a rest too and there’s no better time when your children are being entertained.

In summary one would say this is a well devised, well directed, well-acted show with superb casting. There was a problem with volume but that can be fixed. Quantum came with one objective. That was to entertain over 200 children. This they did.

This is a Four-Star Review.

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Three times Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. See more on www.ojlwritingservices.co.uk.

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