What a terrific writer David Almond is. The new play by the author of Skellig, Wild Girl, Wild Boy , part of the Catch season of children's theatre at the Lyric in Hammersmith, deals with a serious subject - the loss of a parent - with a deep and moving understanding of a child's grief, but the lightest possible touch.
Almond's writing is full of everyday poetry which puts to shame the flat dialogue now all-too-familiar on the London stage. Elaine, who remembers a sunny time of jokes and pretend play with the father she has lost, is struggling at school (when she goes) and not always on good terms with her mother. She revisits her father's allotment, where together they once planted "fairy seeds" and listened to the "larky birds" singing. The Wild Boy, a good-natured scarecrow of a character who hasn't yet mastered speech, appears to her and no one else, although most people can smell him. Elaine now has someone who needs her help, someone to share her loneliness; doctors cannot make head or tail of her condition. Eventually, "Mam" enters Elaine's imaginary world and there is a hopeful but not sentimental ending.
Janet Bamford is excellent as Elaine, keeping the children in the audience, aged nine to 12, gripped, convincing them she is one of them. The production is simple, but uses clever lighting and sound to convey changes of place and time, although the doubling of some characters may be confusing.
Wild Girl, Wild Boy , a joint production with Pop-up Theatre, will visit more than 20 other venues in England and Wales by April. It is supported by Sainsbury's Checkout Theatre, an initiative to fund high-quality plays for 10 to 14-year-olds. Pop-up: 020 7609 3339, www.popup.dircon.co.uk
The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.
Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.