A handful of Halifax sweet factory workers discuss the play that they are about to see. Divesting themselves of their work clothes, they become Barrie’s Regency characters.
The Throssel sisters, ringletted Phoebe (Paula Lane) and older Susan (Louisa-May Parker), are struggling for money and pinning their hopes on Phoebe’s engagement to dashing Valentine Brown (Aron Julius).
When the slightly dim Valentine instead enlists in the army and disappears for a decade, the sisters turn their house into an eccentric school for difficult children. The kids – all played by Muppet-like puppets – are exceptionally funny and do much to lighten the slightly dour mood that dogs Laurie Sansom’s production until the second half. The grand ball, in which all the women’s costumes echo the colours of Quality Street sweet wrappers, livens things up no end.
The plot twist owes something to both Jane Austen and Shakespeare in its elaborate (if unlikely) deception.
Ultimately enjoyable, it would work better without the framing device.
Touring until July 7. Tickets: northern-broadsides.co.uk
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