Review of “Hamelin”. Sutton Arts Theatre. Friday 6th January 2017.
“Hamelin” is the story of the Pied Piper, set to drama, dance and song by its creators Stuart Goodwin and Alan Rowe, who already show quite a sophisticated grasp of the ingredients that UK audiences have come to expect from a Musical Theatre performance. We were fortunate to find a few tickets left on sale at the door to the Sutton Arts Theatre.
The production combines a healthy dose of those ingredients with many pleasant twists and turns to create a confection of zaniness and melodrama. It was exuberantly performed by a cast consisting mainly of children, and was full of emotion as well as great humour. The dialogue was fast-paced, the story always moving on and the songs frequent, short and catchy.
It began with a gripping portrayal of the poor orphans being cast out of the town where “You cannot stay if you cannot pay!” and made to work the grain harvest, later going unrewarded in a neat foreshadowing of the betrayal of the Mayor’s subsequent promise to the Piper for ridding Hamelin of its rats. Unscrupulous business practice and social injustice were the grand themes of the first Act.
High camp and cod German and Black Country accents from the Mayor, the Crier and their colleagues in the town off-set the heart-felt laments of the poor orphans and the taunts of the spoiled rich kids. The second Act contained further well-judged embellishments of the legend: a series of failed measures by the townsfolk building to the arrival in great style of the Pied Piper himself, amongst the mayhem caused by the rats overrunning the town and terrorising the inhabitants.
Above all else the production was a spectacular demonstration of what children can give us when they put their hearts and souls into their performances. It was not so much the dramatic content which was emotionally moving, but its delivery by these children certainly was – and therein lies the strength of the piece: its ability to harness their imagination, energy and passion. JD 8.1.2017