REVIEW: The Box of Delights (Wilton’s Music Hall) ★★★★

The Christmas classic The Box of Delights by Piers Torday, based on the novel by John Masefield, returns to Wilton’s Music Hall following last year’s sold out run. Watch out, the wolves are running.

Fans of the 1935 book and 1984 television adaptation will be familiar with this magical adventure story. Younger audience members will enjoy meeting Kay Harker and his friends for the first time in this festive venue.

Kay Harker is heading home from school for the Christmas holidays when he meets Cole Hawlings. The curious magician asks Kay to look after his Box of Delights, an enchanted trinket with great powers. Kay realises that he has become the keeper of an object that many others would love to get their hands on, including the mysterious Abner Brown, who threatens to cancel Christmas if he can’t have the box. In their desire to save the box and beat the baddies, Kay and his friends Mariah and Peter find themselves in a magical world of time travel, shape shifting and talking animals.

The production welcomes back cast members from the 2017 run alongside some new faces including Theo Ancient, last seen in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Nigel Betts plays both Cole Hawlings and Abner Brown and Sara Stewart switches between kindly governess Caroline Louisa and the unscrupulous Pouncer. Molly Roberts shows great physicality as Abner’s evil rat, providing information in exchange for green cheese and bacon bits. Mark Extance returns as the Bishop of Tatchester; Safiyya Ingar commands the stage as boisterous Mariah, bossing around her more studious brother Peter (Samuel Simmonds).

Wilton’s Music Hall is a wonderful location for this festive tale, the set uses the height of the space well and the lighting conjures the magical qualities of the story. There are some lovely moments and nice use of traditional and shadow puppetry.

This show is recommended for age 7 plus with a run time of 2 hours 10 minutes with an interval. There are some moments of peril which may upset more sensitive children. If you’re looking for a charming family Christmas show, and even if you’re not bringing children but fancy some festive cheer, The Box of Delights should definitely be on your list.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Nobby Clark


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