Hetty Feather – Cheltenham Everyman REVIEW

As a child I had every Jacqueline Wilson book there was, I knew every line to every episode of the show Tracy Beaker, I even met the legendary writer! She was my hero, I remember doing a class presentation on her, I used to have a whole bookshelf dedicated to my Wilson novels, okay, you get the drift, I liked her.

However, Hetty Feather was published just as I had weened myself away from the books, so I never got to read it. Now adapted into a touring play, the story is a circus based adventure with plot twists galore. I had a full narrative before the show from the young girl next to me. I did slightly stick out like a sore thumb amongst an audience that was either aged below 13 or was looking after someone below aged 13, but nevertheless I was in my element.

This show allowed me to treat the 10 year old self I once was, with classic slapstick humour which you couldn’t help but chuckle at, impressive stunts to cheer for, and emotional twists to leave my jaw open. An incredibly immersive experience produced not only by the panto style audience participation.

There was something about the entire piece that was calm and familiar. Me and my friend who came with me both agreed, you felt relaxed and welcomed in the presence of the characters… even the mean ones. You felt as if you knew the actors before the show and that you were practically family by the end.

The cast of 8 were incredibly multitalented in areas such as acrobatics, singing, physical theatre, acting (of course) and instrumentalism. The two musicians welcomed us as we entered the foyer and introduced the show, they then resided in the corner with instruments from harps to double bass or accordion. They pulled the show together as music and sound effects were a vital part of the tale.

The chemistry between the four young children in the first section of the play was heartwarming. Witnessing Saul, Jem, Gideon and Hetty’s friendships develop or crumble as they played in the big tree made up of the large circus apparatus with hanging silks and ropes, which filled the Everyman stage.

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This is the last leg of their tour, and they will not be at the Everyman forever so roll up sharpish before they depart.

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