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
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
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
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
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
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
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.