In most walks of life conventional wisdom dictates that you should endeavour to give your audience what they want. Rarely can this be more pertinent than when the audience in question is a theatre full of expectant primary school children.
However this basic rule did not seem to be considered by the Springs Dance Company when creating their production of The Selfish Giant based on the Oscar Wilde short story.
On the surface The Selfish Giant is a classic simple fairytale. A grumpy giant returns home after a long absence, only to discover children playing in his beautiful garden. He immediately banishes them but his garden becomes locked in winter without the life-force that the children had brought. Of course the giant learns his lesson and both Spring and the children return, the moral of sharing clear for all to see.
The Selfish Giant is a new physical theatre production in the middle of a UK tour. It is choreographed by Darren Ellis and directed by Steve Stickley with music by Jeremy Clay.
A storyteller and four dancers make imaginative use of the sparse but effective staging. The music is atmospheric and good use is made of lighting throughout.
However from as early as the first dance segment there were mutterings of confusion from the watching children, unclear on what the twirling, jumping and whooshing they were seeing actually meant.
Although the storyteller did interject occasionally the heavy focus on interpretative dance made it very difficult to follow the story for both young and old alike.
By the time the excellently manipulated puppet-boy appeared in the second half the majority of the audience seemed to have lost interest, meaning the thought-provoking and poignant ending was almost completely wasted.
Perhaps with a few adjustments to help fully engage the audience the experience could be a lot more enjoyable for all involved. It is a story for children, so needs to be presented in a way that children can enjoy and understand.