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Review: Heaven Eyes at Washington Arts Centre

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Quality shines in family drama
Théâtre Sans Frontières presents
Heaven Eyes
by David Almond
Washington Arts Centre
Wednesday 8th February 2017

We have said, many times, that there is a lack of suitable drama shows aimed at the kids too old for “Peppa Pig Live”etc but not yet ready for “Get Carter”.  Heaven Eyes does well to fill that gap and is ideal for the Key Stage 3 child who is in need for a story that’s more challenging without being unsuitable. As an adult, the show had merits too as it explores the issues of how society deals with orphaned children.

At the start we are introduced to three children who are in care. Erin (Natalie Ann Jamieson) is always happy and has memories of her Mam before she died. January (Lawrence Neale) was abandoned outside of a hospital in an orange crate in the month of January. Sean (William Davies) starts off as a reclusive introvert who has a pet mouse in his coat. The care worker Maureen (Sarah Kemp, who is also the Assistant Director and Producer) starts off a circle time session that reveals much about each child.

January has been building a raft and he encourages the others to escape the home and go off on an adventure. They eventually land at some mud flats and that’s where they meet a girl called Heaven Eyes (Maria Lindh) and a man she calls Grampa (Paddy Burton) who digs around the mud looking for treasure. They may be an odd couple but they take the three children in and give them shelter.

The story explores some aspects of the emotional rollercoaster experienced by children with no contact with their parents. The play does get dark, and there are twists to the plot, but it never loses sight of the fabulous spirit often found in children. A great ensemble cast are easy to relate to and the characters are people you can be fond of. For this story to work it was important that the audience care about what happens to each person as they have their adventure and create a new family unit.

Alison Ashton has designed a set which helps the action flow rather than being an obstacle to the storytelling. John Cobb has directed a show which shows there can be light moments in the middle of major life events.

Heaven Eyes is a rich family tale that is perfect in particular for the 9-14 age group. The production is both engaging and entertaining. You leave with a smile on your face yet the story doesn’t trivialise the subject matter. 

Review by Stephen Oliver.

The show runs for about 90 minutes without an interval.

TSF is grateful for the support received to tour this production from: Arts Council England, Active Northumberland, the Ernest Cook Trust and Tynedale Lions.

On The Web:

Heaven Eyes - tour schedule 2017

8 Feb, 7pm & 9 Feb, 10.30am             Arts Centre Washington                     0191 561 3455
10 Feb, 7pm                                        Stamford Arts Centre                          01780 763203
12 Feb, 5pm & 13 Feb, 2pm & 6pm    Greenwich Theatre, London               020 88587755
16 Feb, 1pm & 7pm                            The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham     0121 359 9444
18 Feb,2pm & 6.30pm                        Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds            0113 3760318
21 Feb, 7pm                                        The Dukes, Lancaster                          01524 598500
23 Feb, 7.30pm & 24 Feb, 10.30am     The Brewhouse, Taunton                     01823 283244
2 March, 1pm                                     Square Chapel, Halifax                      01422 349422
4 March, 7pm                                     Mumford Theatre, Cambridge           01223 352932
6 March, 7.30pm                                 Theatre Royal Winchester                   01962 840440
8 March, 7pm                                     The Gulbenkian, Canterbury              01227 769075
10 March, 7pm                                   Hawth Studio, Crawley                      01293 553636
14 March, 7pm & 15 March, 1.15pm   People's Theatre Newcastle               0191 265 5020
17 March, 1pm & 7pm                        Alnwick Playhouse                             01665 510785
18 March, 2.30pm                               Arc,Stockton-on-Tees                         01642 525199
22 March, 7pm & 23 March, 10am     Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham     01434 652477
25 March, 7pm                                   The Maltings, Berwick                         01289 330999

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