Hanora Kamen as bookish sensible Jane and Doxah Dzidzor as dreamy Anthea in the play

Review: Five Children and It at The Egg theatre, Bath

Be careful what you wish for is the theme at the core of Edwardian novelist E Nesbit’s cautionary tale: Five Children and It. Whatever wish the purple clad sand fairy grants to the children always has unexpected consequences. The children wish to fly but become stuck on a church tower, they are granted gold coins which sees them accused of theft and the youngest child becomes a monstrous baby when they accidently ask for Lamb to grow up.

Bucket Club Theatre’s production of the classic children’s novel is a five star hit in the cosy confines of the Egg Theatre in Bath. Director Nel Crouch created a believable children’s world of wonderment as the five (well four really as baby Lamb is safely confined to a pram for much of the play) as they squabble and argue over what wishes they should ask for from the Psammead or sand fairy.

Craig Edwards as the sand fairy

Set against a stage of sweeping white curtains, stable doors and a balcony complete with ladders, Rebecca Wood’s design allowed for maximum use of the space with a piano tucked in one corner. Versatile Patrick Bridgman as Uncle Paul made use of the piano to accompany several of the songs while Craig Edwards as the desperate-for-a-holiday sand fairy made the most of his role as the instigator of dreams come true. His switch to the grumpy owner of a pony and trap as well as an irate chef were some of the highlights of the drama.

An excellent ensemble cast of Hanora Kamen as bookish sensible Jane, Hannah Bristow as naughty boy Robert and Doxah Dzidzor as dreamy Anthea were added to by understudy Peta Maurice as Cyril who seamlessly filled the roll of the stiff upper lip Edwardian brother.

The children take flight in one sequence when their wish to fly is granted

Strong production values including Jenni Jackson’s movement direction which added so much as well as lighting, sound and music made for a perfect show – and above all created a drama which engaged the very young as well as adults with its constant wit and humour.

The largely young audience seemed transfixed by the action that included song and dance, movement and mime and numerous delightful creative sequences. The pony and trap journeys, the purple flight over the world and the interjections with Uncle Paul on the farm and the lost ferret running joke all added to a complete narrative with the theme of: be careful for what you wish for. And underlying the story was the unseen subplot of the children’s absent mother who was battling the authorities for female suffrage – reflected in Edith Nesbit’s own life story.

Harry Mottram

The play runs to January 16th, 2022.

Details at https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/event/five-children-and-it/

Harry Mottram is the news editor of Bath Voice monthly magazine covers news, views, reviews, previews and features as well as what’s on in Bath and events for residents in Bear Flat, Widcombe and Oldfield Park and the wider Bath area. Delivered door to door in south Bath and available in shops and supermarkets. See the Facebook site for details.

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