Review: Raven at Alphabetti Theatre
Raven by Danielle Slade
Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne
19th August 2023
It was a delight to be back at Alphabetti Theatre this evening after a brief hiatus. The venue is so welcoming with its gorgeous foyer come bar area which offers a warm space to everyone in Newcastle including a craft area for children and free darts, a pool table and a fully stocked bar offering alcoholic and soft beverages, snacks, and delicious toasties. The staff are a delight and there’s free WiFi too for those who simply can’t leave their devices behind.
Raven is a musical production primarily for children and tells the tale of Raven Varmint who is lost in the world. She does not know where she comes from, who she is, or why she is the way she is. On the eve of her 10th birthday, she breaks free from the shackles of her mother and along with her friend, Artimould (a somewhat forgetful gargoyle) embarks on a quest of enlightenment and discovery of her past.
We discover Raven (Maya Torres) in her abode deep in the Shadows where her mother, Agnita (Ruth Mary) have been consigned due to Raven’s wild heart. Raven is a child of some emotion and prone to displays of wonton and expressive emotion, which is frowned upon by the mayor, Neat (also played by Ruth Mary.)
Raven’s companion on her journey is an absent-minded gargoyle, Artimould (Calum Howard) who accompanies her into her original home town of Honeyville where she meets the delightfully and equally emotional Sleek (Carl Wylie) who is the grandson of the incumbent Mayor.
This is a journey of discovery, understand who you are in the world and challenging social norms, told through a wonderful story including some very clever music, inventive puppetry,and delightful acting. There is a joy which emanates from the stage from all the performers and the music is innovative, quirky, and imaginative.
The director (Stan Hodgson) weaves a beautiful narrative which takes the viewer from a hovel in the deepest, dankest place through to a wonderful conclusion of acceptance and understanding. This is aided in no small part by the lighting design (Si Cole) whose plot starts dank and dark but glistens brightly as the story concludes. The set (Aileen Kelly) offers a sense of the forest and the pristine nature of Honeyville with some very simple but effective manoeuvres which are magical to watch.
I do not think that anyone will be upset with me when I say that the star of the show is Artimould the Gargoyle (voiced by Calum Howard and operated by Howard, Ruth Mary, and Carl Wylie at various points.) This character is exquisitely brought to life by the performers and much credit has to go to the puppet designer (Georgia Hill) who has created a character that I would certainly pay to see again in another story. His look and demeanour are perfect for the age group of 7–11-year-olds to convey many a story and works beautifully to tell this tale of a young girl dealing with her feelings and how to regulate them.
There is a delightful naughtiness in this production which will appeal to the children at whom it is aimed but also to the parents. The music (Calum Howard) is accessible, interesting,and fun. Many congratulations to all the cast, crew and creatives for a wonderfully imaginative tale, a thought-provoking narrative, some laugh out loud moment and a new best friend in the gargoyle, Artimould.
Raven plays at Alphabetti Theatre until 3rd September and is a must see for anyone aged 7-70 and beyond so don’t be a silly sausage and get your wild hearts along to this joyous celebration of discovery, bravery and understanding your true self.
Alphabetti Theatre is also celebrating its 10th glorious anniversary and has invited back some amazing talent to celebrate this wonderful milestone. See below for more details.
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