Written by Ruby Isla Cera Marle
Presented by Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre
Reviewed at Leicester Square Theatre
At Leicester Square Theatre Sat 9th July – Sun 4th September 2016
For ages 3+
Betty O’ Barley and Harry O’Hay are a happy-go-lucky pair who spend their days scaring crows away. This duo of scarecrows are so smitten with each other that they decide to have “the best wedding ever, the best wedding yet, the wedding that no one will ever forget.” The Scarecrow’s Wedding is a charming retelling of Julia Donaldson’s book: this much loved children’s tale has been placed in the safe hands of Scamp Theatre (who are the team behind the ever successful Stick Man and Tiddler). Once again, Scamp Theatre have added their enchanting touch to a Donaldson text, and brought Axel Scheffler’s illustrations playfully to life. The Scarecrow’s Wedding combines clever staging, melodic folk songs and an array of instantly loveable characters. It’s a firm favourite that can be enjoyed by all the family.
For those unfamiliar with The Scarecrow’s Wedding, the plot is as follows: in order to get married Betty and Harry must scour the farm to find feathers for the dress, a shell necklace, pink flowers, two rings and bells. Their search leads them to make friends with many animals along the way, often played by the charismatic chameleon Michael Palmer. Simple yet effective costumes such as a vibrant green space hopper transform Palmer into a military-minded toad; a clothes line of bells instantly evoke a herd of busybody cows. The Scarecrow’s Wedding is propelled by the power of make-believe and the infinite realm of a child’s imagination.
Completing the cast are straw-filled lovebirds Matthew Hamper and Lucy Wells, who dart across the stage with boundless energy. All the members of this small cast of three play an array of instruments including a fiddle, a banjo, a soprano saxophone, cajón and even a kazoo. The Leicester Square Theatre is enveloped with sounds of folk-filled drawl, as Darren Clark’s songs compliment this quaint tale perfectly. Some songs such as ‘Life of Scarecrow’ are quite the ear-worm, whereas some of the others fail to make a lasting impression.
It’s a surprisingly nuanced piece – miniature versions of Betty and Harry can be seen in the faint distance, to be coupled with the idea that inanimate objects come to life when their owners aren’t looking (which felt like a nod to Rosie and Jim). In fact, there are a couple of seemingly subtle nods to children’s television: the slightly tatty dog on wheels is reminiscent of the programme Dog and Duck.
Those that have read The Scarecrow’s Wedding won’t be disappointed with this adaptation, and those that haven’t will no doubt be hurrying out to buy it.
Ruby currently works for English Touring Opera as their Digital Marketing Officer. In her spare time she can often be found in a theatre, soaking up the cultural metropolis that is London, or eating tapas. To read some of her other reviews check out her blog or follow her on Twitter @RubyIsla_CM