The Bookbinder (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

The Bookbinder

A subtle, smart and funny theatrical piece, entertaining for adults and kids alike

It says a lot about The Bookbinder, that the venue was three quarters full with adults when I saw it – and that a younger child aged six or seven left halfway through. This is an engaging piece of theatre, full of intrigue and sophisticated humour, best enjoyed once you’ve reached your tenth birthday at least.

New Zealand company Trick of the Light create a real sense of intimacy with this tale, in which a bookbinder’s apprentice learns the hard way that cutting corners can lead to trouble. Lone performer, Ralph McCubbin Howell sits behind a large desk, taking on the roles of narrator, bookbinder, apprentice and some of the characters who pass through the shop.

Clicking on a desk lamp, he illuminates a large, gloriously designed, pop-up book, inside which a story-within-a-story resides. Each page is turned to reveal another step on the young apprentice’s journey, as he tries to undo the wrong his shoddy workmanship has caused.

McCubbin Howell is a fine performer, and Hannah Smith’s subtle direction keeps the whole show tightly contained. Although at times, especially for younger viewers, a little more humour and overt physicality would help bind the audience closer still.

Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 31 Aug, 1.40pm, £9–£7.

The Bookbinder

  • 4 stars

Trick of the Light Theatre They say you can get lost in a good book. But it's worse to get lost in a bad one… From award-winning company Trick of the Light Theatre comes a story of mystery, magic and mayhem. Inspired by the works of Chris Van Allsburg and Neil Gaiman, The Bookbinder weaves shadowplay, paper art, puppetry…