Review: Moominland Midwinter, Sale
Christmas is a great time for tradition. In Sweden, the midwinter festival has been a big deal for a very, very long time, but they do things differently there.
This production of Moominland Midwinter at Sale Waterside, courtesy of Rossendale’s Horse + Bamboo and the egg theatre in Bath, is certainly a festive presentation, but it’s no panto. That’s not to say it isn’t fun. Quite the opposite. It’s a real delight which children will relish. But on the quiet it’s also got a depth to it which goes deeper than the usual tinsel trappings and gaudy excess. Fittingly, it’s very Scandinavian.
Anyone who has grown up exposed to Tove Jansson‘s Moomins, whether via the original books or the various screen adaptations, will know that there’s a gently melancholy streak to them which makes them hard to forget. Sure enough, this show opens with our fusspot hero Moomintroll waking up to a snow-bedecked world and wandering about in it feeling very lonely. Before too long, though, he starts to meet others, among them a ditsy squirrel, dour Little-My and philosophical sort Too Ticky.
The result is a lively adventure of discovery and wonder, with lots of uproarious antics. But there are also lots of quiet, reflective moments about the circle of life, with nature portrayed as a force that can be harsh and scary as well as beautiful and magical. Yet it’s all done so deftly, and with such a lightness of touch, that children will have no trouble absorbing it. The result as a whole is truly impressive, and it definitely stays faithful to the spirit of Jansson’s unique original vision.
It’s a small-scale puppet production with visible puppeteers, but they’re dressed in suitably Scandi black outfits and woolly hats so their presence quickly becomes invisible once the story gets going. There’s plenty of ingenuity in the staging, with a very tight, skilful company creating an entire world between them. In particular, Mark Whitaker lights up proceedings with an array of daffy characters, not least the over-enthusiastic Hemulen and an unleashed troll. There are comic set-pieces a-plenty, and larks abound. Lots of fun is had with different perspectives of scale. There’s a very nicely judged use of evocative music throughout, too.
The pacing meanders a little in the second half, and tiny theatregoers might begin to wriggle before the end. But it wraps up perfectly, and besides, it’s a world you’ll enjoy being immersed in. All told, it’s something pretty special. Festive tweeness is not the order of the day here. Instead it’s a genuinely rounded, irresistible visit to a glorious winter wonderland.
Where: Waterside Arts Centre, Sale
When: until January 2, 2015
More info: https://watersideartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/1694-moominland-midwinter/
- Photo Gallery: Visible Girls – Revisited, a photographic exhibition by Anita Corbin, The Civic, Barnsley
- Food Review: Rosa’s Thai, Albert Dock, Liverpool
- Fleetneedles Forage: How to please the bees
- Review: Invisible Cities, Manchester International Festival
- Still waiting to be discovered: Lulu talks to Northern Soul
The Northern Soul Awards 2018
The Northern Soul Awards 2018 took place at the stunning Manchester Cathedral on November 15. Here’s our list of winners, along with the Highly Commended and Special Mentions for each category. Congratulations!
Sign up for Northern Soul newsletter
The Northern Soul Poll
Recent Tweets for @Northern_Soul_
Literally no words. pic.twitter.com/HupLSuf5c6
We're delighted that Northern Soul is the Media Partner for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction for the second year. Organised by @commapress and @UCLan, the prize is open for submissions on the theme of ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Details here: bit.ly/2jWCGDU pic.twitter.com/XlcKoKqDdx
A press release arrives at Northern Soul Towers. "Workers take TEN TIMES as long to poo while at work." We can't believe people are paid to come up with this shit.
Thought for the Day: “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” ― Alan Turing pic.twitter.com/GJv5Ex9iPO