Last Saturday I headed to see Theatre By The Lakes Christmas production which is The Emperor & The Nightingale. The play is set in ancient China about an Emperor who wants everything, including things he can’t have and a beautiful Nightingale who teaches him how to open his heart and love.
This adaptation has to be one of the best I have seen of this production; it added real humour to the play which had the audience laughing throughout.
The use of puppetry for the Nightingale really brought the performance to life and the detail in the bird left you forgetting that it wasn’t real and you forgot that there was someone controlling it as it felt so lifelike. Amy Gardyne, who voiced and controlled the Nightingale, gave a beautiful performance when singing the nightingale song.
The charter of Li-Si, played by Joel Sams, was the villain of the story and gave a panto villan performance whilst still being in keeping with the production. He had audience members young and old booing and jeering and left us all in hysterics. He really brought the character to life and gave an unforgettable performance.
The characters of Xiao and Wu, played by Sally Cheng and Martin Sarreal, played the main two protagonists and the pair had great rapport between them. Cheng gave a brilliant performance and came over as natural and captured the innocence of the character well.
There has to be a mention of the lighting effects used throughout the production. The theatre was filled with Chinese lanterns which gave such an atmosphere and made you feel a part of the set. The lighting in each scene really captured the mood of the scene which really added something extra.
The music throughout the performance added another dimension to the story and brought the whole tale to life. Whilst only a small cast, they were all involved musically either singing or playing instruments, and it was a great and imaginative way to move the narrative along.
I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and even though it wasn’t a christmas tale, it was an excellent story and had a magical quality about it!