The Falcon’s Malteaser. The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset
The Studio space at Poole Lighthouse was crammed with over 100 people on a warm sticky October night. The advised age was 8+ and there were many parents and grandparents dragged along by keen children who thought they knew the Anthony Horowitz story. The atmosphere was jolly and relaxed, sugar levels kept high with soft drinks and popcorn, but the reviewer need not have worried that rustling paper would interfere with the storytelling as the attention of the audience was grabbed from the start and held fast throughout the show.
The story of younger brother Nick and his attempts to keep his private detective older brother Tim Diamond alive, was told in quick clever comic strip style. The other characters, feckless parents, gangsters, fierce police inspectors, shop keepers, untrustworthy women, in quick change costumes and accents were peopled by two amazing actors.
The action was fast moving but easy to follow, with clever twists on what initially seemed a fairly basic rickety stage set, until every permutation of door, sign, desk and chair played through successfully. The script was simple and direct though it did develop some subtlety and left the audience to work out with Nick’s help the underlying puzzle of how a box of Malteasers could contain a fortune in diamonds.
At the beginning the audience appeared quiet and respectful but the gentle humour and slapstick won them over. Noticeably the child audience began to respond more to the jokes in the second half. The jolly good nature of the piece did not allow the narrative tension to build and the fear and threat in the original story was not present, however this script is aimed straight at children and the elements of farce in chases around the set, were good fun.
There were several charming bits of business, particularly the guitar playing in handcuffs. The introduction of a science teacher to help the solving of the puzzle was a clever touch. The moral was definitely to be a successful detective you need to concentrate at school. A point hopefully taken on by the many boys in the audience.
In brief, Falcon’s Malteaser is ideal for family groups, children from 8 upwards especially boys, if you enjoy childrens theatre with style, an intelligent script and excellent acting.
If you want a traditional detective ‘whodunit and can’t smile, stay away.
Alex Brenton 4 stars
The show is on tour this month: Great Torrington’s Plough Arts Centre on 2nd Nov 3pm & 7pm, 01805 624624; at London Jacksons Lane 4th-8th Nov, 020 8341 4421; 12th Nov 1pm & 7.30pm Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre, 01902 321321; 15th & 16th Nov 7pm & 3pm; Inverness’ Eden Court, 01463 234234; 21st Nov 1.30pm & 7.30pm; University of Hertfordshire’s Weston Auditorium,01707 281127; 22nd Nov 7pm, Manchester Z Arts, 0161 226 1912; 23rd Nov 2.30pm; Southport’s The Atkinson, 01704 533333; and on 29th Nov 7.30pm, Didcot’s Cornerstone, 01235 515144.
For more children’s theatre news, reviews and features visit http://www.childrenstheatremagazine.co.uk/
See the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t__NVfYH2oc