Written by Jacqueline Wilson (novel), Adapted by Vicky Ireland
Watershed Productions at The Liverpool Playhouse
November 8th - November 12th 2005

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

I tried to view this play through the imaginary eyes of an eleven year member of the audience, since it is mainly aimed at children aged between seven and thirteen or fourteen. If I was that child I would have been disappointed on a number of counts by this Watershed Productions performance.

Although props were often moved on and off stage by people who appeared to be wearing Chinese costumes (I could see no relationship between the style of clothing they were wearing and the storyline, but perhaps I am nitpicking) and flying puppets representing fairies, there was little else of substance in regard to visual appeal for the many children in the audience. As a child I would have got bored by the wordiness of the production towards the end - at times it seemed like endless talk, talk, talk.

The story revolves around Violet (Sarah O’Leary), who is the number one fan of Caspar Dream - a writer and illustrator of fairy story books. Cocooned in a fantasy world with toy fairies for company - together with the fairies conjured from her imagination - she eventually meets her hero, who tends to live life as a recluse.

Other aspects of the play include Violet's family, who are - like most families - constantly bickering. Her brother Will (James Camilleri) has a massive chip on his shoulder after discovering he was adopted when a baby. Violet's parents did this after Mum (Lynee Armitage) lost her child through cot death.

Jasmine (Rebecca Santos) - playing the part of a fifteen-year-old but looking about twenty-five - plays a key part in the play, with Violet befriending her at school and sharing in her fantasies.

Furthermore - and this perhaps surprised me most of all - there was very little apparent humour either in the dialogue or in the actions of the actors. As a result, the kids in attendance seldom burst into spontaneous laughter. Overall, the play is ponderous and appeared to be too serious in content for this age of audience.

One amusing note of the evening was the announcement immediately before the play began for the boys and girls to open their sweet bags prior to the curtain going up!

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