Review: The Story Giant at the Everyman

Richard Bremmer as The Story Giant Photo: Stephen Vaughan
by Andy Green THE Story Giant is the third production in the season by the new Everyman Rep Company. From the book by Brian Patten and adapted by Lindsay Rodden, this children’s show tells the tale of a man as old as time itself, a collector of stories; he knows every story ever told – except one. The first thing that strikes you is the impressive set – a marked departure from the sparseness of previous productions. A huge tree-like structure dominates the centre of the stage with ‘grassy’ seating around the edge enabling the younger members of the audience to get closer to the action. Four children from the four corners of the Earth meet in their dreams at the home of the giant. Rani is from India, Betts from the US, Liam from the UK and Hassan, a refugee from Aleppo in Syria. It’s doubtful if the younger children understood the reference to Aleppo but if it prompts them to ask questions then all to the good. Richard Bremmer is perfectly cast as the giant – he’s very tall for a start. He is at times irascible, melancholic and enchanting – delighting in the children’s story telling but unfortunately, he’s heard them all before. He has until midnight to discover the last story. The four children proceed to regale him with a raft of stories, acting them out with unbridled exuberance. Hassan, played by Tom Kanji and sporting a dragon onesie, provides the bulk of the comedic moments – he’s superb and totally believable as a young, confused refugee from Syria. Asha Kingsley plays Rani, a young girl who loves her books and is probably the most sensible of the four but really gives it her all when acting out the stories. Betts, played by Melanie La Barrie, is a bundle of energetic fun and a joy to watch.  Elliot Kingsley’s character, the thoroughly likable Liam, starts off trying to be cool but soon gets into the swing of things as the play progresses. Rodden’s adaptation and Matt Rutter’s direction have brought this piece bang up to date whilst maintaining the wonderful quirkiness of Patten’s original story. An amazing piece of staging brings this production to an enthralling climax. Another triumph for the Ev Company! The Story Giant is at the Everyman until 29 April with varying performance times. See www.everymanplayhouse.com  for details.