“Keep your passions under control” the heroine of the story Hetty is told, whilst she shouts out to the audience “you can be whoever you want to be.”
Balancing from an acrobatic ring hanging on the stage, Jacqueline Wilson’s tale tells the story of young Victorian girl Hetty who is left by her mother to the London Foundlings Hospital. Hetty travels through her crazy and magical world, through foster families and traveling circus’ in hopes of finding her real mother again.
Staged in the beautiful and intimate Quays Theatre in The Lowry, the show is staged almost as if we are all inside a circus tent. With hanging drapes of colourful cloth, inventive use of props and radiant lighting, it is no ordinary play. The piece is accompanied by music played by two highly talented men Seamas H Carey and Luke Potter who sit in the corner of the stage playing an array of instruments and harmonising behind the actors. The musical element of the production really enhances the enchanting nature of the show and gives it copious amounts of sparkle.
With merely a small cast of six, they are full of energy as they are constantly running up ladders and flying through the air on aerial silks. Frequently interchanging roles the cast use different elements of costume to distinguish between their parts.
Phoebe Thomas who plays Hetty is outstanding, with her bountiful red hair she is a vibrant character that oozes charisma and enthusiasm. Her acting as such a realistic young 5 year old child is impeccable, I was seriously impressed by Thomas and her commanding stage presence as she captivates every single member of the audience.
Hetty Feather is one of the most innovative shows I have ever seen, it is full of expressive staging and imaginitive creations. The way props are used to amplify the imagination is spectacular, such as the puppetry used to create a large elephant, or the way they use planks of wood to to become Victorian London.
Sarah Goddard plays both the role of Hetty’s foster mother and Ida the kitchen staff worker at the hospital whom Hetty confides in. She succeeds in the challenge of portraying these two roles and the contrasting feelings they both feel for Hetty. Ida plays an important role in the show as she reinforces the determination and courage inside Hetty that she has slightly lost on her adventures.
Intertwined between the funny and playful nature of the show are scenes of heartbreak. What makes this play so remarkable is the mixture of emotions explored throughout the show. Within the franticly energetic and bubbly performance there are sheer moments of stillness, such as the scenes between Hetty and her mother, that are so poignant I doubt there was a dry eye in the house.
Hetty Feather is a show that takes storytelling to the next level with the use of stylistic theatre and an abundance of imagination.
On at The Lowry all Christmas until the 10th of January, tickets can be found here.