Everyman, Liverpool – until 29 April 2017
As the Everyman’s company season continues, The Story Giant takes to the stage. An adaptation of a tale by Mersey Poet Brian Patten, it brings together a wealth of the theatre’s backstage talent for a real family affair.
Adapted by the venue’s former literary manager Lindsay Rodden and directed by YEP’s Matt Rutter, The Story Giant (Richard Bremmer) is racing against time to find the one story in the world that he does not know. Four children from across the globe – Hassan, from Aleppo (Tom Kanji), Rani from India (Asha Kingsley), Betts from America (Melanie La Barrie), and Liverpudlian Liam (Elliot Kingsley), meet in a dreamworld, and attempt to help him with his quest.
As his treehouse home begins to crumble, the children tell of stories from their homes and learn about each other’s lives. At the heart of it all, as the Story Giant, Richard Bremmer is quite perfect; carrying himself with exactly the right amount of huffiness – and heart – and projecting in the round as well as any British theatrical elder statesman. Dumbledore and Gandalf might be in good company with our giant here.
Bremmer’s experience spoke volumes (no pun intended), bringing a grand and enjoyable gravitas to the stage that centres the whole play beautifully. Another highlight was the music of composer Patrick Dineen, usually to be found over at the Unity, whose atmospheric Potter-esque leitmotifs gave a suitably otherworldly feel.
There is significant attention to detail in ensuring the in the round set up works, both in appealing visually to hold the attention of younger audiences, and attempting to avoid sound issues. The actors are constantly on the move and aware of their surrounds. The set, centred around a large tree with extending branches, hid props all around to reveal delightful touches illustrating the children’s stories (the tales of the perfumer’s nose and the magic bag were especially fun).
The Story Giant is recommended for ages six and up. It touches on some dark themes – Hassan, in his dragon onesie, dreams as he sleeps in his father’s car, fleeing war in Syria. Reality is never far away, and even though this is a children’s show, it does not patronise or shy away from this (to this effect there are also a couple of minor swears). Ultimately, it is a classic fairy tale with modern twists that will leave audience members of all ages with something to remember.