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Review: The Magician’s Elephant, RSC

This captivating family musical is the first to stomp onto the RSC stage since it closed its doors, and the critics are all ears. But what did Muddy think?

The Magician’s Elephant is the first show inside the RSC since coronavirus forced theatres to close their doors – and boy did it impress. From the very first note, struck with so much gusto the audience jumped in their seats, this moving production reels you in. 

The musical is adapted from Kate DiCamillo’s novel of the same name by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler, and follows the story of orphan Peter Duchene in the city of Baltese. Peter, played by Jack Wolfe, thinks he has no family left until a fortune teller reveals his younger sister is still alive. And her cryptic clue to find this long lost sister is to ‘follow the elephant.’

A magician accidentally conjures an elephant during his performance at the opera house which comes crashing through the roof of the building. The elephant becomes the worst kept secret in Baltese, with people queuing up to have their wishes granted by her. 

Visually the production looks as though it has been plucked from a Tim Burton film with tones of grey to mirror the melancholy atmosphere around the city which is still grieving the losses faced during the war. The moments of humour and joy balance the more serious themes of grief, PTSD and infertility which the story touches upon, and the musical numbers keep the production moving along with the help of narrator Amy Booth-Steel. 

Jack Wolfe helps to portray the longing and loneliness of both Peter and the elephant, and draws the audience into his performance, particularly during the musical numbers with the strength of his voice. Equally, Miriam Nyarko brings buckets of enthusiasm to the part of Peter’s lost sister, Adele, with a standout performance.

Obviously in a family show we need villain you love to hate – and Countess Quintet and her husband The Count are just that; from the Countess’ outfits and hair, to the comedic way The Count lives under her thumb.  

And of course, the biggest star of the show, physically at least, has to be the elephant which is a sight to behold. The gentle way this giant moves about the stage seems like the most normal thing in the world. The puppetry involved in bringing the elephant to life truly is magical to witness – which is no surprise really considering the brains behind War Horse built this behemoth.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: It’s the perfect family show to catch over the festive break to keep the kids (little and big) entertained. You’ve only got until 1 Jan though – go, go, go!

Not for: If you’re looking for a dance-fest there’s not back-to-back routines. But, have you ever seen a dancing elephant?

See The Magician’s Elephant at the RSC until Jan 1.

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