The Story Giant, Shanty Theatre at Lyme Regis and on tour

Story_Giant-2THE Devon-based Shanty Theatre Company returns to the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis this year, much to the delight of their many local fans and enraptured holidaymakers.

Shanty was set up by Harry Long and Tim Bell, and they are now also joint artistic directors of the historic theatre on the cliffs above the East Beach at Lyme. Over the years they have established a reputation for inventive musical re-tellings of famous stories – they have tackled the plague, the Ancient Mariner, Napoleonic invasions, smuggling ….

This year Harry, with musical collaborator Stu Mcloughlin, has adapted Brian Patten’s book The Story Giant, and it unfolds as four young people from around the world have a simultaneous dream.

An Indian girl, an Arab boy, an American girl and a young Englishman awake (in their dream) together on a bleak moorland in front of a pile of stones, which suddenly opens up to reveal a library. Fascinated not only by the living books but the stories they contain, the youngsters start to read.

They are startled by the thudding footsteps of what turns out to be a giant, returning to his home. But he’s not your usual man-eating monster. He’s hundreds of years old, he’s an avid reader … and he’s dying.

It’s up to the children to pool their resources and find him a story that he’s never heard before, and they have just this one evening to do it.


Tim Bell’s production, at the Marine until 28th August before a tour which also stops in London, is full of action and delight.

It’s a dark story and one with a powerful message. Patten’s book not only inspires but enlightens and terrifies – as all the best fairy stories should.

LLoyd Gorman, on stilts, is the angry and frightened giant, with Radhika Aggarwal, Josie Dunn, Michael Lee-McKenzie and Sam Martin as the children, discovering themselves along with the stories they unearth from their own memories.

The lighting plays a big part in this production, mirroring the revelations of the stories, and the multi-talented actors play instruments and sing at various moments of the action, accelerating to the hopeful climax of the tale.

The collaboration of the poet Patten and the Shanty team is a fruitful one, and The Story Giant again gives The Marine probably the best summer show on the south coast.



See also the interview with Brian Pattern in Words! World! Words!

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