Shared Experience Open Magic Toyshop on TourDate: 15 August 2001
The award-winning theatre company Shared Experience takes to the road again this autumn, with a production of Angela Carter's novel The Magic Toyshop. Adapted by Bryony Lavery, the production opens at Ipswich Wolsey Theatre on 11 September 2001 before continuing until 20 October to another five cities.
Carter's story begins with a teenage girl, Melanie, walking through a moonlit garden in her mother's wedding dress. However, her romantic idealism is overturned when she is sent to live in a dank London house, peopled by strange relatives. In an environment governed by fear and lust, she chances upon the truths behind a Magic Toyshop.
Shared Experience Theatre, described by the British Council as a 'flagship organisation', has performed in over 20 countries. The company's joint artistic directors, Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale, recently recreated the acclaimed Mill On the Floss and War and Peace productions. Shared Experience's output ranges from adaptations of novels to contemporary and classic drama. Their London base is named the Soho Laundry and forms part of a converted Grade II listed building.
Angela Carter (1940-1992) was one of the most acclaimed writers of her day, with a strong edge of magic realism infusing her works. Steeped in the lore of ancient and modern folk tales, her writing career also included the 1984 film The Company of Wolves. Her final novel was Wise Children, with Nights At the Circus and The Passion of New Eve among her other literary creations.
Prolific playwright and director Bryony Lavery's recent stage work includes Goliath (Bush Theatre, London) and A Wedding Story (Birmingham Rep, Soho Theatre). She has also adapted the Finnish drama, Cherished Disappointments In Love, for Soho Theatre's autumn 2001 season.
Hannah Watkins plays Melanie in The Magic Toyshop, with Damian O'Hare as Finn and Penny Layden as Margaret. Watkins, a graduate of Central School of Speech & Drama, appeared with the National Theatre ensemble in Romeo and Juliet. Her other theatre credits include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (RSC) and Six Degrees of Separation (Sheffield Crucible).
The Magic Toyshop is directed by Rebecca Gatward, whose production of The Three Birds at the Gate Theatre last year received a Time Out award. After the Ipswich dates, the production calls at Huddersfield, Liverpool, Guildford, Oxford and Dublin.
- by Gareth Thompson