The Wishing-Chair Adventures

Running Torch's The Wishing-Chair Adventures prides itself on audience interaction. It's brilliant to see a group of young actors really going out of their way to engage with the crowd and it goes down an absolute treat with the kids.

It's an entertaining forty minutes and does rush by, although some care might be taken to make sure every minute is as energy-packed as the last.

The adaptation of Enid Blyton's classic aims to fit a lot of adventures into forty minutes, which is ambitious but unfortunately means some of the narrative is a bit hard to keep up with for younger viewers. The action starts immediately with the shop in which protagonists Mollie and Peter find the eponymous chair. It's a mystical workshop filled with glitter and ensemble cast, but there's not much explanation as to why the shopkeeper has access to all of these wonders. If you have prior knowledge of the book you'll be fine, but a little extra exposition would be nice to keep non-Blyton fans involved.

The enthusiasm of pixie Chippy is where the play really perks up, with the actress completely dedicating herself to the character. The entire ensemble however can come across as a little tired in their performance, which could do with bringing to the same level of interaction and energy as Chippy. This injection of energy would also help the pacing, which jumps about the place fairly infrequently. From moving incredibly quickly through the fantasy lands filled with wizards and witches, the play slows down considerably when set in Mollie and Peter's home. Maybe a little reworking of the script would ensure that a little more time is spent on the magical realm instead of the nursery, although the children's mother is a lovely addition to the cast and interacts superbly with the audience.

The lighting and sound cues are simple but effective, with ensemble rearranging the minimal set to invoke the chair flying across the realms. It's an entertaining forty minutes and does rush by, although some care might be taken to make sure every minute is as energy-packed as the last.

Reviews by Louise Jones

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Performances

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The Blurb

This fresh adaptation, especially written for Running Torch, is designed to breathe new life into these favourite magical stories. Only with audience participation (a vital part of the play – along with the Chair itself) can Enid Blyton’s much loved characters – Mollie and Peter – with their new Pixie friend, Chippy – face adventures with wizards, witches, a giant, and even save a silly boy whose face changes with the wind. Then, their mother threatens to sell their beloved Wishing-Chair and the children’s need is at its greatest. Prepare to have fun and make magic!

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