Thursday 8th of May at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff I attended Invisible Ink
and Theatr Iolo’s production of Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop. The story
follows Melanie, played by Jordanna Moran, a fifteen year old girl who’s just
lost her parents and siblings in a tragic plane crash. Melanie is sent from the
countryside to live with her Uncle Philip, Kevin Lewis and Aunt Margaret,
Kirsty Cox, in London at their toyshop. Upon arrival she is met by her mute
Aunt Margaret’s’ two brothers; Finn, Jonathan Holden, and Francie, Jack
Reynolds. Melanie is plunged into a world very different to what she is
familiar with and suddenly learns how her terrifying Uncle is a sinister
puppeteer, pulling the strings to control all those trapped under his roof. The
play mixes love, lust, sexuality and danger to bring a range of emotions to the
oppressed characters which hooks the audience attention and leaves them holding
their breath over the fates of Uncle Philips victims.
The stunningly beautiful Jordanna Moran brings an alluring edge to the character of Melanie and helps to create an instantaneous sexual spark to the relationship with charming and flirtatious Finn. The believable chemistry between Jordanna Moran and Jonathan Holden was electric, especially when sharing that first intense kiss. Both actors worked exceptionally well together in creating the growing love that each character holds for the other. Being unaware of the storyline previously I was shocked to suddenly be presented with the incestuous relationship between Margaret and Francie. The audience focus was now shifted as they had not been the main focus during earlier stages of the place, actors Kirsty and Jack made an incredible performance of making their secret love affair so real and so passionate. Kevin Lewis’ portrayal of menacing Uncle Philip was perfect, I felt myself recoil in horror during the disturbing ways in which Uncle Philip portrayed his infatuation with the puppets. The entire cast was flawless and fantastically well-rehearsed, they worked together matching levels of professionalism to bring Angela Carters twisted tale to life in the intimate Stwdio at Chapter. The intricate set, designed by Carl Davies, was also lovely compliment to the outstanding performance.
Quite possibly one of the best performances I’ve seen this year to the point I’d
watch it again immediately, I’d urge any theatre lover to attend as soon as
they can. Theatr Iolo and Invisible Ink have managed to deliver this classic 20th
century tale, engaging with the audience, and will hopefully receive much
deserved credit and praise within the theatre community.
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