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Wilde Tales – Take a journey back to the magical world of childhood



Review by Emma Whitelaw

OSCAR Wilde’s exquisite fairytales, The Selfish Giant, The Nightingale and The Rose, The Happy Prince and The Remarkable Rocket are all showcased in one night of childish bliss in Wilde Tales, now showing at The Southwark Playhouse.

Adapted for the stage by Simon Vinnicombe, all four plays are typically Wilde.

Quirky, comical and forever taking a moral stance, Wilde’s fairytales are both sensitive and provocative.

The first and possibly the most well known, The Selfish Giant, is the precious tale of how small children bought life to both the garden and the heart of an evil giant.

Upon returning to his castle from a seven-year holiday with his friend, the Selfish Giant discovers his garden has been invaded by children.

In a fit of anger, he banishes the boys and girls only to find that in doing so he is also banishing life from his garden. As the eternal winter sets in, the Selfish Giant becomes bitter and cold.

The snow, hail and wind are seemingly relentless. That is until one day the children find a hole in the wall the giant built to keep them out.

Their welcome return melts both the winter and the heart of the Selfish Giant.

The Nightingale and The Rose is equally as stunning.

Elisabeth Dahl is simply superb as the beautifully fragile Nightingale who would do anything, even give her life in the name of love - after all love is better than life!

The cast excel as they tell the tale of The Happy Prince.

The introduction of a puppet for the piece was imaginative and performed by Robin Armstrong with commendable precision.

The Happy Prince, played by the immensely talented Gunnar Cauthery, gives all he has to rid the poverty and sorrow that plagues upon the town he once ruled.

The final (and I would argue the funniest) of all four tales, The Remarkable Rocket, takes a stab at hierarchal ignorance with the hilarious personification of firecrackers.

Robin Armstrong had the audience in stitches as the conceitedly 'Remarkable Rocket'.

Wilde certainly had much to say when it came to his fairytales, whether it be moral instruction or social commentary; his tongue in cheek tales are as engaging as they are entertaining.

The entire production was outstanding. The set and costume design was simple yet extremely effective.

I particularly liked the simple use of feathers and flowers to transform the actors into the diverse characters.

The supreme cast bring an enthusiasm to the text that does justice to Wilde’s genius. A delight for all ages!

Wilde Tales by Oscar Wilde. Adapted by Simon Vinnicombe. Directed by Max Key. Starring Andrew Allen, Robin Armstrong, Gunnar Cauthery, Elisabeth Dahl, Nic Dawkes and Lynne Forbes. March 15 to April 2 at Southwark Playhouse. 5 Playhouse Court, 62 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 0AT. Box Office 020 7620 3494.

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