Returning to this year’s festival, Enchanted Forest Adventure is nothing short of delightful. Blending together storytelling, dance and improvisation alongside fantastic lighting and sound design, performer Brooke Laing and director Craig Conway have concocted the perfect show for young viewers.
Without the use of overly complex sets, without a constant wink to her adult viewers, Laing brings fairytales to life with a rare deftness of touch.
Taking us on a journey through the Enchanted Forest, Laing whisks up the entire audience into her world of make-believe. How else would we be able to give Ariel legs, make Bottom human once again, or defeat a wicked witch, other than through the imagination of children? For the majority of the show children are kept central to the action; they are led by Laing from scene to scene, enthusiastically riding invisible horses or using petals to undo curses.
While the involvement of such young children (the suggested age range is from 3-8) might be a daunting prospect for some, Laing manages to make it seem effortless. The actress succeeds in shepherding her audience back on track whenever things begin to become too off-kilter, whilst simultaneously encouraging her shier viewers to join the fray. This is not to say that adults are ignored, with parents having the opportunity to become trees, be part of a rain dance, and fight for the right to reclaim their shoes.
Visually the show uses intelligent sound and lighting design to full effect. While the stage is for the most part a blank canvas, shifts in the lighting help to convey important differences in tone which provides the piece with a truly magical atmosphere.
One beautiful final moment, in which Laing creates a shimmering rainbow above the heads of children lying on the stage, helps bring the intention of the piece into sharp focus. While other shows may cater themselves specifically towards parents, Enchanted Forest Adventure cares deeply about creating a collaborative experience in which children can push the limits of their imagination.
Without the use of overly complex sets, without a constant wink to her adult viewers, Laing brings fairytales to life with a rare deftness of touch. A show which can bring a rainbow indoors and take you under the sea, Enchanted Forest Adventure is a production that is sure to melt the hardest of hearts.