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Review: The Silver Sword, by Ian Serraillier, adapted by Susie McKenna and Steven Edis, New Wolsey Theatre, until Wednesday November 4

PUBLISHED: 10:25 03 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:25 03 November 2015

Lucy Tregear (Frau Wolf) & John O'Mahony (Herr Wolf) in The Silver Sword at the New Wolsey Theatre

Lucy Tregear (Frau Wolf) & John O'Mahony (Herr Wolf) in The Silver Sword at the New Wolsey Theatre

Robert Day

This clever and inventive musical adaptation of the best-selling children’s book will have audiences of all ages laughing and stifling a tear in equal measure as Sell A Door theatre company bring to the stage this touching tale of resourceful Polish youngsters making their way across Germany during the dying days of the Second World War to be reunited with their father.

Oliver Bruckner (Edek), Julian Harries (Joseph) & Rachel Flynn (Ruth) in The Silver Sword at the New Wolsey TheatreOliver Bruckner (Edek), Julian Harries (Joseph) & Rachel Flynn (Ruth) in The Silver Sword at the New Wolsey Theatre

It’s a show which gives the audience plenty to think about as they address the issue of what makes someone a migrant or a refugee but this debate is delivered with wit and subtly. Thankfully the audience is never lectured.

The opening scene, which is all ready set as the audience arrives in the auditorium, offers an echo of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage as a beat-up wooden wagon laden with precious items from a shattered former life waits to be taken to a new world.

The story of the family’s journey to be reunited with their father is told by a family troupe of travelling Polish storytellers. It’s an uplifting tale of courage and ingenuity in the face of, at times, seemingly insurmountable odds.

The ten person actor-musician cast gives the production a scale and scope which allows this tale to relish in it’s epic nature.

Although, it is a touching tale, with moments of genuine darkness and heartbreak, there is also plenty of humour.

The cast deliver a powerful, wonderfully focussed performance, switching between roles and providing a commentary and adding to the narrative through music.

It’s great to see Suffolk actor Julian Harries playing a different type of role as the father Joseph desperately searching for his lost children. The four stand-out performances, however, come from the young professionals playing the children – Rachel Flynn, Oliver Buckner and Tom Mackley – along with real youngsters Lucy Adams and Megan Parry alternating as the five year old Bronia.

It’s a musical drama packed with wonderful invention from director Susie McKenna. The set is provided as a mixture of physical, adaptable atmospheric scenery and a series of startling photographs and drawings projected onto a floor to ceiling screen at the back of the stage.

A captivating piece of modern musical theatre which will stay with you long after you have arrived home.

Andrew Clarke

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