‘Eat me. Drink me. Love me.’ Such is the link between carnal hunger and erotic desire in Christina Rossetti's powerful poem Goblin Market, which explores the link between sexual need and feminine repression in Victorian England. The language is rhythmic and charged - erotic in form as well as content. It's a pity, therefore, that so much of the beauty of Rossetti's language is absent from Goblin Market, which - in expanding the poem's story over fifty minutes - risks diluting its intensity and slowing down its breathless pace. Lines are chopped, reworked and reassigned; new dialogue has been written to flesh out the scenes between sisters Laura and Lizzie, who must each in their turn contend with the temptations of the fatal goblin fruit.
Such an approach unfortunately tends to feel like padding - unnecessary additions to arbitrarily lengthen a tale that doesn't need such additions, although the introduction of Jeanie, a former victim of goblin temptation only alluded to in the text, is a striking one, and she is powerfully and compellingly played by Iona Campbell. We get too many scenes of Laura writhing in ecstasy and desire and too little of Rossetti's own words (a change in the ending is particularly noticeable here).
That said, as Laura, Charlotte Wilson gives an incredible showing - a no-holds-barred performance that embraces the melodrama inherent in the text without ever losing hold on its emotional reality. Whether sobbing brokenly or jealously guarding her goblin fruits from her sister Lizzie (played with convincing innocence by Bethany Slinn), Wilson is always on fine form, and her work makes Goblin Market eminently watchable even when the pacing lags. The goblins, too, deserve mention - richly costumed and palpably intense - they do much to create a believable atmosphere of sexual tension.
Had the adaptation stuck more closely to Rossetti's text, it may well have been a goblin feast - brief but sweet. As it stands, however, it's a more mixed basket of treats.