Fables for a Boy at LOST Theatre
Adrian Sandvaer’s Fables for a Boy, directed by Ryan Duncan, tells the story of a nameless boy as he struggles from childhood through to adolescence, haunted by the demons created by his own disturbed imagination. His grandmother being the only person he feels close to, he becomes immersed in a dark and troubled existence created by her storytelling, her twisted tales staying with him long after her death.
The audience is dragged into an amateur Tim Burton-esque world, fully equipped with puppetry, low lighting and masked shadowy beings, and accompanied by a chilling soundtrack. The piece seemingly has the makings of a great dystopian musical, but somehow something is missing.
It is without a doubt that the piece is well cast; each of the actors boasts an exceptional voice that send chills down the spine, particularly in the later chorus songs. A standout performance is given by Bethan Maddocks in the role of the grandmother; she brings the fables to life beautifully, alongside an array of fascinatingly eerie puppets and simple shadow projections that add a distinct element of visual interest.
However, the fables themselves ultimately lack intrigue and fall short, given the momentum with which they start. The performance, which lasts nearly three hours, quickly becomes claustrophobic due to its heavy subject matter and the intensity with which it is performed, and the music becomes monotonous, with lyrics that are at times difficult to follow. The concept of the piece is a good one but in practice it is perhaps taken just a little too far to a level of darkness that is overwhelming.
Driven by a strong cast and some interesting visual techniques, Fables for a Boy will have viewers gasping for air and desperately willing the boy to escape from this nightmare reality. Not one for the faint-hearted. Give it a go but proceed with caution.
Fables for a Boy is on at LOST Theatre from 31st March until 24th April 2016, for further information or to book visit here.