I got the opportunity to attend the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of John Masefield’s The Box of Delights, as adapted by Piers Torday and directed by Justin Audibert, on Friday the 24th of November 2023, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The play features a main character called Kay Harker (as played by Callum Balmforth) who goes on a journey to save Christmas, whilst looking after a magical box from an all-powerful, time-travelling magician. Kay has many tribulations to defeat, as he battles an evil magician and the ‘wolves’, whilst realising the importance of his own imagination. I loved the message that dreams ‘are how things change’ and I feel that this is ever increasingly relevant.
The family friendly performance was entertaining for all age groups, and I found myself laughing with the whole audience at several points. The cast were fantastic and so well practiced with the props. In an underwater scene, the whole production team and cast were able to showcase brilliant talent as the moving water prop shimmered whilst the actors performed a perfectly choreographed sequence. The set design allowed the audience to envisage all the different scenes and made a great reveal when opened up! There were brilliant projections that changed on the wardrobe backdrop, and I particularly loved the silhouette paper-cut projection. The stunning silhouette artwork made me want to know more about how the team came to produce this effect and what the creative process looked like. I think these details are what move a show from being great into being something special.
The absolute highlight for me were the props. I thought these were spectacular, and better than in any production I had seen in a long time. The moment the hand-held train came out with its lit up carriages, it was clear it was going to be a magical, entrancing, and exciting show. The character puppets were brought to life by each actor using them and it was evident that lots of training went into making them so believable.
Beyond the acting, props, and set, I also really appreciated that the performance was captioned. I think it’s extremely important to make creative content accessible, and it also helps to create a more welcoming and considerate atmosphere. If you get the chance visit, do, it’s a magical experience that I feel very lucky to have been able to join!