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Theatre: The Tinderbox

The Tinderbox

Photo by Paul Blackmore

Crude jokes to brutal stabbings – Jon Aitken reviews The Tinderbox.

Bristol Old Vic Young Company‘s The Tinderbox was so good I forgot to make notes.

Set in the intimacy of the Old Vic’s studio, the production was based on Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the same name and involved 18 actors – all of whom seemed far more professional than their years belied.

I was particularly struck by the clever use of props within the show; somehow during the two hours of performance they managed to convince me that the set of unremarkable wooden chairs constantly present on the stage were at times a door, prison, drum or even occasionally just something to sit on. Similarly, the symbolic use of fire throughout the show – there was always somebody striking a match every few minutes – felt appropriate to the story being told; a lot can be read from a character staring into the lit match held before them, to have it blown out by another who appears from behind them.

A standout scene for me was the crude discussion held by the group of boys – all named variants of Tom/Tommy etc – that worked well to make the audience chuckle but also touched upon contemporary lad-ism, while maintaining a barely-there PG rating. They brought hilarity to The Tinderbox, balancing out the more serious scenes of death and brutality.

My only criticism of the Young Company’s production is that it lasted just four nights, and that as much as I can implore you to go and enjoy, you simply won’t be able to. Instead, I would suggest you wait patiently for their next show – The Tinderbox has set a high standard that I feel sure they will continue to uphold.

Did you see the show too? Or have you seen anything by the Young Company before? Let me know at @rifemagazine