Tuesday, November 29

The Famous Five – Theatr Clwyd

Theatr Clwyd have done what they do best and brought us an original piece of theatre in the form of a fantastic musical, The Famous Five. Made Famous by the stories by Enid Blyton, Elinor Cook has created the book for this musical telling us how the Famous Five met and became who they are.

With George, her dog Timmy and three cousins, Julian, Dick and Anne, we are taken on an adventure over the Summer on Kirran Island.

Theatr Clwyd’s Artistic Director, Tamara Harvey, has worked her magic once again, and with the help of a hugely talented cast and team, brought a wonderful story to life. And by looking around the audience tonight, it was hugely enjoyed by a wide range of people of all ages.

The pre-set is fantastic with a projection of Kirran Island and the key places that we will be visiting throughout the story. We are introduced to the two extremely talented puppeteers, Ailsa Dalling and Elisa De Grey, and the Musicians of Kirran Elisa Boyd, Claire Shaw and Benedict Wood who create a wonderful ambience to invite the audience in and set us up for the musical.

Photo: The Other Richard

George is a seemingly unapproachable, unhappy child who does not want her cousins to visit and Maria Goodman has so much fire and determination as George. Not wanting to let her guard down and let people in, when she sings In the Water, you see her anger and frustration slowly turn to sadness, a beautiful part of the musical. A powerful and emotional vocal from Goodman. The cousins Julian (Dewi Wykes), Dick (Louis Suc) and Anne (Isabelle Methven) are so integral to the plot and are a force to be reckoned with. Methven delivers such stunning vocals, so clear and powerful. Wykes brings out a lovely character, with lots of heart and intention and his song, titled Julian, showing how much everyone expects of him but he’s just a child at heart. Suc is a bundle of energy with such a likable, relatable character, fantastic vocals and an abundance of humour. The vocals from the four of these young performers were mind blowing.

Timmy is such a huge character and the way Dalling brought him to life was nothing short of genius. Tail wagging, breathing, panting, you start to forget there is a puppeteer controlling him.

Aunt Fanny is played by Lara Denning who brings so much care and love to the piece, with the most beautiful vocals. David Ricardo-Pearce as Uncle Quentin was a nice part, but I personally felt the character was lacking much depth. He was played well but I found his songs forgettable and feel these parts could have been spoken and still have got the point across well. Sam Harrison injects a huge amount of fun and laughter in the role of Bobby, in his many hats and characters. An utter joy to watch.

Kibong Tanji is the ‘villain’ of the piece as Rowena and is stunning to watch, delivering such incredibly demanding vocals with such ease, especially in It Could Happen To You.

Music and Lyricist composer Theo Jamieson has created some incredible pieces here. There are times when I feel some songs seem rushed and we struggle to pick certain parts up. My favourite numbers included Jump Fly Fall and the final number, Famous Five, which were full of energy, character and very catchy.

Lighting by Johanna Town and Video Design by Ash J Wood was extremely well done, bringing the static set to life and creating a lot of light and shade.

The set was a great piece that was designed by Lucy Osbourne and built on site at Theatr Clwyd.

Famous Five is a joyous, adventurous musical which lets you bring that child that lives in all of us back out, even if just for a short while.

Running until Saturday 15th October 2022 with tickets available at https://www.theatrclwyd.com/event/the-famous-five-a-new-musical

Reviewer Damian Riverol

Reviewed: 29th September 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★