Jake and Cake

Godfrey Hamilton
Theatre Centre
Unicorn Theatre and touring
(2010)

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This delightful play about a boy from the a city missing his old friends after a move to the country and a country girl who wants him as a friend is just right for the 6+ audience it is aimed at and will certainly be enjoyed by adults too, for it is both theatrical and moving.

It opens with a straight piece of story-telling by the two performers: the tale of a girl who gets lost in the forest and falls asleep to be protected by a great grey wolf who 'brings you the dream you need to dream.' Its familiar form is an easy lead into the theatrical experience that follows.

Simply set against a woodland backing, it then begins the children's own story. Jake, kicking a football and falling over, immediately has the audience warming to him. Cake, as the girl calls herself, is so eager to make a friend you can't help but like her too. As we go with them into the wood, watch them calling on the magic of an ancient tree and eventually each have their own encounter with the wolf, real or in their imagination, the audience must use their own imagination to complete the images and ideas the actors are creating.

This is something that the school party I saw it with could clearly take in their stride and go along with. They loved the references to the countryside smelling of poo and by the way they turned to look at friends were eager to share the experience they were having with others.

Hamilton's script sounds like young children and has a verbal richness that will surely stimulate an interest in words. It is beautifully played by actors Clare Chater and Robert Solar. Director Natalie Wilson and designer and composer Alice-Lane Lingwood do an excellent job - especially the thunderstorm effects, making a 50-minute show which does much more than entertain. The audience I saw it with will certainly want to go to the theatre again!

At the Unicorn until 14th March then The Broadway, Barking 18th March, The Hawth, Crawley 20th March 2010.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton