The Selfish Giant
Reviewed – 1st December 2018
“a beautiful show that will appeal across generations”
This is a story I loved as a child and read over and over. In their first collaboration, Soap Soup Theatre and Tessa Bide Productions create a charming adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic tale. The Selfish Giant, Grint (Tomasin Cuthbert Menes), has a fantastic garden and whenever she is on holiday, children play amongst the flowers. But when she comes back to find traces of children across her garden – miniature footsteps and beginner gardening books – she banishes them all from her garden and builds the highest wall she can. But without the children, the garden begins to die and is replaced by an eternal winter. Unbeknownst to the giant, however, there is one child, Poppy (Tessa Bide) still trapped inside. So begins a story of friendship, that celebrates difference and kindness.
There are some very beautiful elements to the production. The garden, designed by Tomasin Cuthbert Menes, who also plays Grinter, is created by items of clothing: crinolines adorned with rhododendrons, a hat that becomes a mushroom, scarves that denote creepers. It’s a lovely idea but one that I wanted even more of to get a more vibrant sense of the stark change between summer and winter. The puppets are also stunning, wonderfully crafted, vivid and well-puppeteered. Tessa Bide’s Poppy is well delivered, endearing and curious, whilst Tomasin Cuthbert Menes is vibrant, full of wonderful sounds and facial expressions.
However, whilst this is a beautiful story, it isn’t a long one and the piece as a result lacks a sense of substance. Although the puppetry and mime are done beautifully, the script and its delivery currently feel a little lacking. This picks up towards the end but The Selfish Giant doesn’t have the necessary oomph to keep all its audience perpetually engaged. Despite these small faults, which should be easy to fix, this is a beautiful show that will appeal across generations.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Paul Blakemore
The Selfish Giant
Omnibus Theatre until 24th December
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: