Writer: Hans Christian Andersen
Adaptor: Peut-Etre Theatre
Music: Lemez and Fridel
Director: Daphna Attias
Reviewer: Ray Taylor
For those of you who are familiar with the title of this tale but have forgotten the actual storyline here it is: it tells of a brave tin soldier who stands to attention with the rest of his toy regiment despite having one leg. The Tin Soldier falls in love with a beautiful paper ballerina before going on unexpected adventures as he aims to win her heart. During his journey he meets a jealous – and very scary – Jack-in-the-box and a hungry fish as he battles the elements to get home in time for Christmas.
Peut-Etre Theatre consists of four extremely versatile, talented actors whose credits inform us that they have a wealth of experience performing all over the world. Their ethos is to bring a new aesthetic experience to the world of theatre for children and family audiences. The company is committed to communicating ideas in an interactive and accessible way through visual, physical and musical means and on the evidence of this performance succeeds admirably.
All four actors deserve individual credit. Charlie Hendren as the Tin Soldier, Maya Politaki as the ballerina, Samuel Alty as the Jack-in-the-box (and multiple others) and Clara Solana also in multiple rôles. They all display their considerable physical skills and ballet, circus and dance training to good effect. Some of their routines are extremely clever. There are a lot of costume changes, use of props, musical instruments and sound effects. Anna Bruder also deserves credit for a very colourful and functional set design that allows the story to unfold – literally, as the pages of a gigantic book were turned throughout the story – and gave the actors ample room to perform their routines.
A company that aims to interact fully with its audience needs the right theatre in which to do it and Barnsley’s Civic is ideal for this purpose. It offers a perfect performing space for this type of theatrical experience and allowed the actors to go right into the audience at various times throughout. Indeed, the ballerina at one point came and cried on my shoulder. There were high fives with the children and even stylised hugging.