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Forty Hares and a Princess at Southwark Playhouse

Elizabeth Peasley

It’s the time of year for fairy tales and Wonderful Beast the theatre Company performing at The Southwark Playhouse expertly brings to life five short tales from different traditions- Japanese, Turkish, Italian, Yiddish.

The universal themes of good/evil/kindness/greed were all present, in fact the first tale, Benizara and Kakezara offers a Japanese take on the Cinderella theme.

Suitable for all of us over aged 7, the little ones in the audience when I was there were captivated by this skilled and innovative ensemble of five actors who worked so well together and seemed to slip effortlessly into all their different roles.

The fixed stage setting of delicate white tree structures provided a background that was both stately and domestic as the different narratives progressed.

The musician and composer Gary Mitchell, sitting comfortably in the corner of the stage, deployed a uniquely put together array of instruments- cymbals, tambourine, xylophone and recorder to conjure the special atmospheric sounds needed for each individual tale.

All the stories originate from the oral tradition of folk lore. The title piece, Forty Hares and a Princess, the last one to be told, is full of wonder and magical powers where a 'sack full of words' is the illusion that ultimately gains all for the humble shepherd.

The whole show is lovely for young children this Christmas season -a guaranteed response of wonder and glee.

Southwark Playhouse, Southwark Bridge Road
• Mon-Saturday at 7.30pm until Saturday 20 December. Saturday matinĂ©e at 3pm. (No performance Friday 19 December)
• Running time 1hour 35mins
• 020 7620 3494

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