Heartwood

Pinecone Penguin Theatrical’s Heartwood has all the makings of an enchanting production, but the slow and insipid script just does not deliver. Through music and puppetry, this family musical follows young Eleanor, a nine year old girl with a serious illness, who wakes from her hospital bed to find herself in a strange woodland full of odd creatures. Can she find an exit before the evil voice calling her name catches up with her?

Pinecone Penguin Theatrical is clearly an imaginative group, but they need to channel their creativity into a sharper production.

Heartwood holds an important message for young people: that they have the strength within themselves to face life’s challenges. These lessons about courage and resilience are incredibly valuable, but Heartwood lacks the momentum needed to communicate them inspirationally. Meeting the woodland creatures feels more like plodding through names on a list than an unexpected journey and every scene seems dragged out. The shows has brief moments of intrigue. Artful Dodger-type street pedlar named Mr Mungo brings much animation to the stage, whilst a Queen Hornet bossing about her subordinates is amusing. The puppetry of Eleanor may be nothing radical, but it adds some magic to an otherwise flat production.

Though the ending is powerful and inspiring, attention will probably have been lost by that stage. The show is far from a lost cause,however. Its songs are fun and the touching exploration of bereavement is moving. Pinecone Penguin Theatrical is clearly an imaginative group, but they need to channel their creativity into a sharper production. 

Reviews by Carla van der Sluijs

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Performances

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The Blurb

A small girl wakes within a dark and mysterious forest. With the help of her absent-minded friend Badger, she must traverse the wood and get past a series of strange creatures, all the while running from a persistent, haunting spirit. A magical journey unfolds, where the line between magic and imagination is blurred. Songs you'll want to sing along with and beautiful puppets are mixed with humour, poignance and an eerie, spine-chilling ambience.

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