Island Of The Lost Children
Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke
Reviewed on Sunday 24th May 2015
Written, composed and directed by Simon Driscoll and Jen Bird, this show started its performing life as a Kickstarter campaign and is a testimony to two people's desire to bring a new children's musical to life.
The original concept evolved over a very short period of time and first made its appearance at Spotlight Musical Theatre Summer School last year. At that time it was a brief taster of what was to come and it was so wonderfully received that Simon and Jen thought it would be great to make it into a full length musical. Continuing to work with Spotlight UK and engaging the dance company Dance Phaze they set about making it a reality to perform at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke for one night only.
Spotlight UK is a registered charity whose aim is to support all who need their help. Their mission statement is as follows: "We believe every individual should have equal chance in life, no matter their ability, race, religion, family status or financial background. We believe every child should be given the opportunity to develop their confidence, self esteem and social interaction to be able to reach their full potential in life. We believe everybody should have access to fun activities."
The testimonies on their website speak for themselves. They do great work and as you walked into the foyer of the Haymarket you felt the warmth of the volunteers who were there guiding you and selling you the programmes, a really worthy charity and a perfect partnership to bring the essence of what was being achieved here.
I'm passionate about supporting new writing and this show confirmed to me the reason why I champion it. The catchy songs composed by Simon Driscoll were wonderfully performed by these talented children. Louisa Riley who played Patience, the little girl in the heart of this story, had a lovely voice and you could see that as the audience encouraged her she gained confidence, capturing for me what is Spotlight UK ethos.
The story resembles Alice in Wonderland as Patience is ignored by her grieving, workaholic father being supervised by Mis Treat, her awful governess (superbly played by Nathan Butler a career on the stage in Pantomime or Priscilla surely awaits!). You often forgot her faithful doggy pal Barkley (played by Freddie Betts) was attached to the hand puppeteer. I loved the play on names, ie. Mis Treat for the horrid Governess, Barkley the dog. Patience is banished to the attic where she discovers a large island painting and is sucked into the painting finding herself transported onto the island amongst a collection of lost children.
The dances choreographed by Katie Hawkins and dance team directed by Faye Cottrell were well done.
This one off show has great legs to it and should be turned into a book. Jen Bird who wrote the script incorporated wit and charm and it was a lovely enchanting piece. Directed by both Jen and Simon you could feel that you were at the birth of something special last night. It would make for a great school edition show as it was an extremely inclusive performance where every child got the opportunity to have their moment in the spotlight.
Well done to all involved. It was a lovely evening of entertainment and I hope this is not the end but just the beginning of Island of the Lost Children's journey.
Reviewed by Caroline Hanks-Farmer