Tuesday, 31 December 2013

'Emil and the Detectives' National Theatre, Olivier ***

The National Theatre's annual family production has a long and prestigious history and this years show of Carl Miller's rendition of Eric Kastner's 'Emil and the Detectives' is one that will keep the children entertained but for the older audience member it fails to stimulate you somewhat. The narrative was far too simplistic and it felt that the production was the only appeal to the younger audience member rather than the entire audience. However when you consider that Kastner's classic children's book was like the Harry Potter of its day I believe it does belong on the Olivier stage . We are taken on a journey of young Emil Who attempts to rediscover and find the 140 marks that he was robbed of on a train journey to Berlin to visit his grandmother. The play accomplishes an array of outcomes, it focuses on the idea of children who form a kind of detective agency decide to break away from that young people shouldn't be listened to and to help Emil with his mission to find the bowler hatted thief. I thought that they show lends itself to let the vast city that is Berlin, which acts as its own. character through the fast pace of every day commuters using cars, trams and buses. The acting by the company will wonderfully acted and this gives me a slight sense of ease about the whole production. I found Ethan Hammers' portrayal of the central protagonist Emil was brilliant especially in the section where he is in the city's very claustrophobic and frightfully smelly sewers. Stuart McQuarrie is captivatingly menacing as the thief Mr Snow and Naomi Frederick is exceptional as Emil's over protective mother Ida Tiscbein. Even the child performers were incredibly entertaining and engaging. The direction by Bejan Sheibani was off an acceptable standard of finish but the flow of the show seemed somewhat primitive. I thought that Bunny Christie's spectacular design captures the expressionistic atmosphere of the story and the director's vision through wonderful video projections by 59 Productions as they suggest the setting and environment really meticulously. Bunny Christie has definitely done well here. I think that this is the production for children to enjoy and one that would make the parents and/or grandparents have a relaxing time without having to think about the children throughout the proceedings.

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