It’s amazing how much you can get out of the word ‘Ak’ – the only word in the troll language. Snappy replies and entire monologues uttered by the titular troll using this word are made to be equally terrifying in this solid children’s production by Paines Plough. This feat is made more impressive when you consider that the troll itself is not even there, but instead created entirely by lights and sound. After all, why make a limited troll costume when a pair of strong storytellers and your own wild imagination can do the job for you?
Those with young children, or perhaps just those with an appetite for pranks, will enjoy this pre-lunch offering.
Our Teacher’s a Troll, written by the same Dennis Kelly who penned Matilda: The Musical, explores the lives of twins whose school takes an unexpectedly grim turn when a humongous troll is appointed headmaster. He’s apparently dedicated to stamping out all vestiges of ‘naughtiness’, so the terrible duo find their pranking all the more difficult to achieve.
The script itself is infectious from the off, using language very similar to that of a traditional children’s book: think repetition, beautifully crafted phrases and repetition. The script never flinches away from the more gory descriptions, children having their heads bitten off to name but one. This decision works well; all the kids in the audience seemed fully enraptured rather than put off by the gruesome details. Things perhaps become a tad predictable within the very formulaic nature of the script, but this in turn could easily be argued to make things more accessible to the younger children.
Effective use of the round and audience engagement from the two performers, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis, is also crucial to the show’s success. Both were able to effortlessly switch between multiple characters with a wide array of different physicality. Sometimes they would swap characters with each other mid-scene without causing the slightest bit of confusion for the young audience.
The troll itself, as already explained, was a very effective use of light and sound earlier on in the play, although the effect wore off somewhat after a time. It could have done with further development to maintain the terror that the troll generated in its first appearance; perhaps extra sounds overlaid on the voice or more noticeable change in lighting as the play reached its climax. Proceedings also feel a little padded out here and there.
However, Our Teacher’s a Troll is an excellent addition to anybody’s morning curriculum. Those with young children, or perhaps just those with an appetite for pranks, will enjoy this pre-lunch offering.