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Proteus - A Daughter of the Aurora

On tour, 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

All aboard the journey of imagination

Twenty-five years on and Proteus theatre company are still raising a smile

A Daughter of The Aurora, at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on Sunday, December 10

I recall seeing Proteus more than 20 years ago and, by golly, they were good, so surely now the company, in their 25th year, would be even better? They were.

And if you not familiar with Croft Hall, it is an architectural gem, more than 100 years old and the thriving hub of community activity.

Lena Rae's adaptation of the stories of Jack London - the American author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang who, as the programme explained, was an outdoor type, widely-travelled and used his experiences to colour his stories with richness and truth - was set on board an ocean liner. The play concerned the relationship between two of the passengers, and explored moral and personal issues through London's stories.

Using a variety of techniques, including mime and puppetry, the cast of three played not only the characters on the liner but also those in the stories. The performances of Clive Holland, Rachel Thorne and Brendan Fleming lived up to their impressive list of theatrical credits. Sheer professionalism. Perfection.

Dressed as the ship's crew, they went into the audience to warm them up and then opened the show with the song Welcome Aboard.

This was not exactly children's theatre but staged with children in mind and there was much for them to enjoy. One extremely articulate young audience member aged about eight said that she laughed a lot when the lion bit the man's head off. I glanced at her face during the show's funny bits and saw it wreathed in smiles. She was clearly enjoying them hugely (as indeed were the 35 other children aged between 30 and 55 in the audience).

On one level this play sought to entertain and on another to explore serious issues. For me, the gap between these two was a little wide, as it tried to please everyone. It might have been better to concentrate on the humour with a great many more songs and jokes, but for the most part it was all done superbly well.

I have heard that the company is to be invited back next year. I look forward to seeing them.