REVIEW: Kingdom of the Heart Brewery Theatre 8/10
THIS past Sunday night marked the end of the seventh annual Storytelling Festival, an eight day event put on at various locations across Bristol that celebrate the power of stories.
Sunday also coincided with the latest Storytelling Sunday at the Brewery Theatre, an event that runs on the first Sunday of every month and sees a different theatre company or artist invited to present or re-present a story that may have ties to history or literature.
Loosely adapted from two folk tales, Kingdom of the Heart concerns itself with two people who journey to a magical kingdom and must set right some misdeed that has befallen the place.
In the first half, a young king finds a realm in thrall to a serpent prince, where a dying king and a corrupted queen represent opposing sides of morality. In the second, a young prince travels through many different kingdoms in order to find a way to cure his ailing father. The kingdoms here are lessons to the prince, lessons that may help his father, but also prepare the boy for his own adulthood.
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Something that's made explicit at the beginning of the show and is alluded to throughout is that the Kingdom of the Heart is not necessarily a physical space, but rather a place where enlightenment, self-realisation, and contentment are attainable. That's not to say the show is overtly intellectual or hard to understand, and it is easily enjoyed as a fine adventure that has recognisable echoes of more famous stories, particularly those of CS Lewis.
There's also pleasure to be had in the strength of the two onstage performers. Katy Cawkwell is an assured, commanding presence as she strides about telling the story, while cellist Sarah Llewellyn Jones provides musical accompaniment, thoughtfully utilising traditional classical music to enhance the narrative.
If there is a negative, it's that each story feels too long, with a tendency for repetition or redundancy and a little more ruthlessness with the source material's adaptation could enhance the overall impact.
Nevertheless, Kingdom of the Heart is a fine production, intelligently presented and well worthy of its place in the Storytelling Festival.