C Theatre brings us a charming, funny and sometimes quite dark production of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale. Three performers play a myriad of funny and endearing roles, telling the story of the ugly duckling – played by a fourth actor – and his journey through a year of life and a harsh winter before he becomes a swan.
All four actors are excellent, changing voices and mannerisms at the drop of a hat in order to become a whole host of new characters. Some characters were fairly sinister and may frighten the youngest of children. However, there were many funny and friendly characters who interacted with the children well. The ugly duckling himself was excellent; his bewilderment at his difference and his warm heart shine bright in the darkness of winter and he had all the children on his side in an instant. This is not a show that relies upon its audience's knowledge of the story, but a show that is innovative in its use of the original tale. The character of the slug who lives in the well, hilarious and inexplicably American, was a wonderful addition.
Although the show has been advertised as suitable for children from the age of three upwards, some storytelling aspects of the show are perhaps slightly too intricate to engage children younger than five for 45 minutes. Despite a very strong attempt at audience participation in the form of a song, young children seemed reluctant to join in. However, even if the more complicated aspects of the story are not accessible to three-year-olds, charming characters and brilliant colourful costumes - including some excellent bird feet - will engage children and parents alike.
A beautiful, charming show with a very big heart; C Theatre have produced a diamond.