Theatre Review – Martha

May 11 2010 | By More

* * * * *

Mrs D and her new best pal!

Brunton Theatre
By Thom Dibdin
TOUCHING, hilarious and played with the utmost respect for its audience of youngsters aged four and over, Catherine Wheels’ wonderful Martha is a suitably stunning opening show for this year’s Bank of Scotland Imaginate festival of theatre for children

Gill Robertson is impeccable as Mrs Donald, a dotty old woman who lives in a shanty by the sea. Everything about her is designed to intrigue.

She could so easily be a character you laugh at, but Robertson makes her endearing. You want her to befriend the goose who comes rattling the tins on her shelves and disrupting her rigid life one summer day. All the goose wants is to spend a night out of the rain, but she’s having none of it.

David Rennie-Fitzgerald is right up to the mark, both as the postie and when he manipulates the goose puppet. The postie brings news of a world just along the bay where people have boat races and fun. Certainly nothing that Mrs Donald would be interested in.

It’s the goose who makes the whole thing magic. He pokes his bill into places it shouldn’t be and it’s hard not to see him as real. Indeed, when the pair are chasing each other round the set, the audience are up on their feet, screaming out hints and instructions to them.

Yet neither performer ever lets the fourth wall to be broken. They allow the unfolding story to calm the audience, as the goose falls sick and reveals a chink in Mrs Donald’s previously impervious armour.

It is all played at a level that young children understand. The knockabout jokes and visual gags, such as when the goose appears wearing sunglasses, are ones they might make themselves.

There are moments of poignancy, but it’s the grown-ups who’ll have a tear in their eye at this elegantly-paced piece of theatre.

Ends tomorrow, then runs at the Traverse from Friday to Sunday.
Full details on the Imaginate website

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