The Box Of Delights by RSC at Royal Shakespeare Theatre Review

The Box Of Delights by RSC at Royal Shakespeare Theatre Review

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Posted 2023-11-17 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 31 Oct 2023 - Sun 07 Jan 2024



The Royal Shakespeare Company(RSC) festive show has included traditional favourites from A Christmas Carol to Peter Pan but this year it's a lesser-known nostalgic tale. The Box of Delights is an exciting adventure of time-travelling magicians at war and plucky children trying to save Christmas.

This gripping story by John Masefield was written in the 1930s but earned a new following in the 1980s when it was turned into a TV series. Now it's back at Stratford upon Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre until January 7 2024.

It follows orphan Kay Harker, shown above, during his Christmas holiday trip home from boarding school when strange people and events take over the tiny village. It's an intricate plot involving wonderful ingredients of magic, mystery and fantasy worlds that keep viewers engrossed.

At its heart is the enduring battle between the good and evil wizards - Stephen Boxer's Cole Hawlings versus Abner Brown, played by Richard Lynch. Our likeable hero Kay is drawn into their fight when he's entrusted with the small wooden magical box of delights by kindly wizard Hawlings.



Kay has two child friends Maria and Peter to help him and they are a trio that holds the show together. There's an electric chemistry between them and they are funny too. Set in the 1930s, director Justin Audibert has everyone talking in clipped RP accents reminiscent of old movies like Brief Encounter.

Best of all is whinging Peter, an excellent Jack Humphrey parading around in shorts and school cap, who is a complete joy with his twee British phrases and fear of everything.

Callum Balmforth makes for a thoughtful, genteel Kay and it's refreshing to see the most sprightly pal of the three is female Maria( Mae Munuo), who is the gutsy gun-loving inquisitive teenager.

The in-depth characterisations are what add extra sparkle to this slick production. Whether it's the devilish lady gangster and jewel thief Sylvia Daisy Pouncer and her funny yet menacing pair of sidekicks or the over-excited screeching mayor(Melody Brown), there's so much to enjoy for all ages that will make you laugh out loud.

Suitable for children aged seven and above, puppets are used magnificently, especially for the stunning phoenix, shown below. On top of that, there are dazzling effects using lights and flowing material to recreate water flooding onto the set.



Most of all, it feels festive. Maybe not as much as The RSC's Christmas Carol did in previous years, but there are carols, snow, presents and hot chocolate that make you feel in a cosy bubble of joy.

Although the pace can be slow at times, yet suddenly wraps everything up a little too quickly at the end, it has done a wonderful job of translating The Box of Delights' complicated story to stage.

Imaginative, funny and thoroughly festive, The Box of Delights is a thrilling and magical adventure for Christmas.

STAR RATING: 4/5

Book tickets or find out more about The RSC's %%Box of Delights at the RSC website here .




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270195 - 2023-11-13 22:26:07

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