Helly’s Magic Cup
Upstage Youth Theatre,
at Upstage Studio,
THE darkish brown rural features on the wall behind the performance space set the scene for the story of Rosalba Clemente’s play before the actors made their appearance.
This was a landscape clearly in a drought and causing problems for the residents.
Those problems are seen through the eyes of Helly D’Oro (played by Sarah Austin), a 12-year-old girl whose farmer father, Joe (James Wilkinson), has suffered a serious accident and spends much of his time fishing at a nearby river.
Her mother, Mary (Sophia Derkenne), has had to take an evening job in the nearby town to help pay the bills, with Helly and her younger sister, Loo (Gabby Coren; Ivy Paleologos), drifting deeper into fantasy lives. Helly has a thing about knights, and, when dashing agricultural scientist Nick (Jack Maslen) comes to the family’s aid, Helly sees him as one.
The ghost of the family’s aged cow, Guinevere (Hannah Chapman; Yeshi Lodue), who dies in the opening scene, offers the girls advice, and two chorus groups, elegant princess-like figures in Helly’s case, and black insects in Loo’s, reflect what is going through the girls’ minds.
The actors and director Jessica Rose and the backstage team made this an engrossing show for all ages, with the behaviour of the two girls generating smiles and laughter, and Helly proving to be someone who could help to ease the pressures on the family.