REVIEW: Snail Tales’ ‘The First King of England in a Dress’ is a wonderful show

Chip Colquhoun, Mayor of Ely Councillor Ian Lindsay, Laura-Jean Robinson and Olivia Balzano with wit

Chip Colquhoun, Mayor of Ely Councillor Ian Lindsay, Laura-Jean Robinson and Olivia Balzano with with an audience of Littleport and Soham primary schoolchildren. - Credit: Archant

Up and coming production team, Snail Tales, entranced a packed Maltings with fanciful tales of the Fens and Knut, a king in a dress.

Olivia Balzano, Chip Colquhoun, and Laura-Jean Richardson

Olivia Balzano, Chip Colquhoun, and Laura-Jean Richardson - Credit: Archant

The script developed from workshops in schools that stimulated the imagination of the children, helping them to make up fantastic tales that were seamlessly woven into the action.

While a clear summary of the real history behind events was given, the accuracy of historical events in the play was a little suspect, but that was what it was all about.

With an array of delightful songs and storytelling crammed with moments for audience participation, this splendid group engaged an audience of mostly children in a world that stretched the imagination and brought to life snippets of reality of a time for which there are few records. There should be much more of this kind of activity!

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’.

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’. - Credit: Archant

The singers and actors were highly entertaining, and special commendation should go to Olivia Balzano who is only eleven years old. She held her part magnificently.


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Chip Colquhoun was an impressive actor and singer. He kept things moving and played his made-up lyre well. When he plucked single notes, rather than strumming chords, it was quite effective.

Laura-Jean Richardson was also amazing, her facial expressions a sheer delight. Even the Mayor of Ely, Ian Lindsay, was encouraged to appear on stage, and made a very good impression of a ‘bad monk’.

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’.

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’. - Credit: Archant

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Congratulations must go to the actors, designer Jenny Stevens, illustrator Dave Hingley, and graphic designer Jack Stevens – and also the primary schools who contributed to the storyline: St Andrew’s in Soham, Littleport Community and Millfield.

This was a wonderful show packed with ideas – even giving the children an opportunity to have their faces painted. This team should go far. Watch this space.

‘The First King of England in a Dress’ is at Ely Cathedral on February 3 2017,

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’.

The cast of ‘The First King of England in a Dress’. - Credit: Archant

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