Reviewed by Alex Foott
Sam Rose in the Shadows – Tucked In
Written by Hal Chambers
Directed by Hal Chambers and Robin Hemmings
Performance date – Sun 11th Aug 2013
Very rarely do you happen upon a piece of children’s theatre that speaks so proficiently to people of all ages. This is one of those pieces. Tucked In’s latest work is an incredibly moving production that encourages us to embrace childhood, and beautifully portrays the relationship between father and son. With innovative puppetry and a set that is larger than life, this show excels in captivating its varied audience. The actors display their myriad talents, spoiling us with masterful storytelling, imaginative staging and harmonies that will have you positively shivering with delight. Despite their youth, they are not to be underestimated.
The story centres around a man named Sam Rose who, one day, discovers a strange box. This box contains all of the sadness Sam holds inside of him and, unable to open it, he carries it everywhere. He lives in the City of Shadows, a place so dark and foreboding that his son, Ivan, must be home-schooled by his tutor, Greta. Before long, Ivan ventures out into the city and experiences the hustle and bustle of modern life. He finds his father and, after much persuasion, convinces him to visit the Oracle. She explains that they are to seek out and overcome the Keeper of the Keys if Sam wishes to be free of his paralysing grief. And so begins the quest to open Sam’s box.
The cast of five are utterly united in their approach to the show, urging children to explore and transporting adults to the forgotten terrains of infancy. The puppetry is charmingly original, with each of the cast treating the puppets as old friends. Although simple, the puppets are crafted in such a way that the juxtaposition of Ivan’s optimism with Sam’s misery is communicated clearly to a young audience. The jolly folk music and emotive script entice us to dive headfirst into our own memories, revealing that our adult lives are often built around our accumulated fears and inhibitions. The exposure of which is somewhat overwhelming. While each of the cast are to be congratulated for their inspired performances, particular praise goes to Clare Rebekah Pointing for her touching portrayal of Ivan and Lucy Grattan, whose soaring soprano adds an ethereal beauty to the story.
Sam Rose in the Shadows is a joyous celebration of youth that also appropriately gestures to the vulnerability of childhood ignorance. By bringing fantastical elements to the gloomy modern world, Tucked In have revolutionised the art of storytelling. Never before has the delicate transition from innocence to experience been more expertly handled.