Don’t be deceived by the child-like title, The Magic Toyshop is definitely not one for the children! Angela Carter’s tale is indeed a twisted fantasy and this co-production from Theatr Iolo and Invisible Ink grabs the audience from their first steps into the studio at Chapter Arts Centre.
Melanie’s world is flipped upside down when her family are killed in a tragic accident and she is sent away from her cushty home, to live with her Uncle Phillip in London. However, it soon becomes clear that she is not destined to be part of a ‘normal’ family set up, after her initial meeting with mute Auntie Maggie and a strained family breakfast. With secrets, deceit and mystery surrounding the toyshop, all is not as it seems as toymaker, Phillip, not only controls his puppets by their strings, but also his family members and Melanie soon becomes a living doll in his mini performances.
The stage is cleverly designed and split to showcase a puppet theatre and the family home and toyshop, with dramatic lighting to highlight the alluring and intense performances from the five person cast. Despite a slightly cluttered and confusing narrative, the nightmare-esque fairy tale is gripping, if a little disturbing and Invisible Ink are definitely a company to look out for in the future.
The Magic Toyshop plays at Chapter Arts centre until Saturday 17th May. For more information, check out the Chapter website.