Adapted from the smash-hit Angela Carter novel, Emma Rice’s adaption of Wise Children is gritty and a spectacle to watch. Packed with grit and bursting with relevance, it’s a piece of theatre that will make you laugh and shock you in a second.
Following the story of the two showgirls, Nora and Dora Chance, the illegitimate twins of the theatrical Melchior Hazard. Abandoned by their father and left orphaned by their sick mother, the twins are brought up by the voluptuous Grandma Chance.
In light of the Me Too campaign, it is a production that tackles the tricky subjects of child abuse, puberty, miscarriages and family. Director Emma Rice has approached these themes with creativity and clever storytelling, allowing their relevance in today’s society to shine through. Giving the show a London edge, this production is full of colour and showbiz while being dark and sinister
The set (designed by Vicki Mortimer) consisting of a caravan that transports the audience from the likes of Brixton to Brighton in seconds, makes the audience feel welcomed into the lives of the twins and like we are sitting right in on the action. Malcolm Rippeth’s exquisite lighting enhances this, intensifying the emotions with bright colour and use of spotlights operated by the ensemble encapsulate the essence of perfect ensemble work.
Gareth Snook and Etta Murfitt make the perfect storytellers as the older Nora and Dora, guiding the audience through the show by talking directly to us. The pair have a great relationship on stage, working off each other almost like the comedy duo in a pantomime. Both actors have moments to prove their incredible ability, by both having moments of heart-wrenching sadness that they perform with authenticity and drama.
Throughout the story, as the twins grow up, the characters change sex, colour and age, highlighting what people have to do to survive in the acting industry. Omari Douglas gives an immensely captivating performance as the showgirl Nora. Douglas’ performance is stunning, and his dance ability is outstanding.
It’s a real ensemble piece, and every single member of the cast gave it
Despite the upsetting themes, there are some real moments of hope and happiness, shedding light on the piece through childishness and some terrible jokes.
Composer and musical director Ian Ross encapsulates the style and era of the piece through his outstanding arrangements of classic jazz numbers.
Emma Rice’s production of Wise Children is gritty and stylistic, with a depth of haunting moments that will linger in your mind for days.
On at Chester’s Storyhouse until the 23rd of March, tickets and information can be found on their website.