Malory Towers, Oxford Playhouse
Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸 NARRATIVE: Darrell Rivers is starting school with an eager mind and fierce heart. Unfortunately she also has a quick temper! Can she learn to tolerate the infuriating Gwendoline Lacey, or value the kind hearted Sally Hope? Can she save the school play and rescue terrified Mary Lou from the grip of a raging storm? If she can do these things anywhere, she will do them at Malory Towers!
Wise Children’s adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers was an exhilarating, youthful and perfect-for-all-ages touring production. Much like the company’s inaugural adaptation of Angela Carter’s Wise Children, their version of Malory Towers delivered a stylised, uplifting and kiss-ass Girl-Power story, devised with playful and musical elements that formulated not only an exquisite love letter to both the Theatre and Shakespeare, (like ‘Wise Children’), but also an emotive and pure piece of theatre with extraordinary levels of relevancy and urgency. Thus the adaptation was intricately peppered with moral messages, tackling the importance of sisterhood as well as gender identity and acceptance. Aside from the crafting of beautifully balanced, high-spirited drama with meaningful elements, the production also exuded a charming side of naughtiness and comedic excellence as the students frolicked around and began finding themselves at their new school. The company is therefore clearly defining its theatre practice and main objectives, as well as doing an excellent job of promoting inclusivity and diversity, both in their casting and content (i.e their use of sign language and music). The dream sequence animation designed by Beth Carter and Stuart Mitchell, (as well as the Video Design by Simon Baker), projected onto the white architecture of Malory Towers complete with two large spires, was in its totality magical. The attention to detail and inventiveness of Carter and Mitchell’s work was the highlight of the show. Combining with the duo-levelled design by Lez Brotherston to create an aesthetically appealing and malleable set, with movable elements such as the beds, that allowed for the cast to run, jump, dance and climb...