Five Children and It, egg theatre, Bath

ONE hundred and twenty years after it was first published, a  bright new adaptation of E Nesbit’s classic children’s tale Five Children and It comes to the egg in Bath, late due to Covid but on until 16th January.

To the delight of the audience, it all starts as the purple sand fairy, the Psammead, tries to get away on holiday, far from the pestering children who keep on wanting their wishes granted. His traditional duty, over the millennia, has been to grant a wish a day … but like Cinders and her slippers, the magic wears off (at nightfall for him, midnight for her.)

His dreams of a childless paradise of crispy spiders and sunshine are shattered when one of the audience requests “a play”. And so begins the tale.

Nesbit, who had five children to look after, created the story four years before her most famous work, The Railway Children. During her tempestuous first marriage, she and her husband were keen supporters of the Fabian Society, and her stories include moral messages and socialist ideals, never allowing them to overwhelm children’s entertainment and delight.

Our five children (well, four and the baby Hilary aka Lamb) are sent to stay with Uncle Paul in the country while their mother is on hunger strike in prison.  Of course, in exploring the farm, they accidentally dig up the Psammead, It. And It makes its presence felt with some sneaky, snarky and hilarious consequences for the wishes It grants.

This adaptation, written by Marietta Kirkbride and directed by Nel Crouch, is a colourful, inventive whirl of ideas, props, costumes, songs, music, movement and adventure, energetically performed by Hanora Kamen as oldest sister Jane, Luke Murphy as oldest son Cyril, stroppy Robert (Hannah Bristow) and curious
Anthea (Doxah Dzidzor) as the children, with Patrick Bridgman as Uncle Paul and various other characters, and the irrepressible Craig Edwards as It (and the grown-up Hilary).

This is a charming show for all the family, with a sprinkling of history and lots of silly fun, not to mention feathers and gold.  Thank goodness it has been able to get back on the egg stage and fingers crossed it stays for a successful run.



Photographs by Paul Blakeman.

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