site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

The Borrowers - Haymarket

6th December 2006 to 6th January 2007.

From the Basingstoke Gazette.

Star is born as Clare shines in Borrowers

The Borrowers, Haymarket Theatre, Until January 6

There are rare occasions when a trip to the theatre evolves into a night when a star is born, a revelation of the brilliance of a young actor.

And happily, the Haymarket's delightful Christmas production, The Borrowers, based on Mary Norton's classic children's novel, is one of those nights.

It boasts a really, really impressive turn by the delightful Clare Fraenkel as the young "borrower" Arrietty Clock, who makes friends with a human boy.

We're first introduced to the small family who live underneath the floor of a house and must endure the booming footsteps of those resident upstairs. But Arrietty's chat with the boy then places her and her parents in terrible danger and, as a result, they must go on the run into the scary outside world to seek out their relatives and a new life.

This wonderfully warm, sweet show has so much to savour for an audience member of any age. There are amazing sets to wonder at, songs to hum along to, surprises to jump at, and a dash of peril too, during which you may want to bite your nails nervously!

And there's even a nasty villain to boo at.

Huge flowers, shoes, hands, insects and mice pop up throughout to sustain the magic, and as for the Clock family home, where spools of thread and thimbles become seats, well, just see if you can spot how many normal household objects have cleverly been used for decoration.

Fraenkel shines as the impulsive daughter, proving herself even more gifted when called upon to act with her voice through her miniature self, the puppet who represents her in some scenes.

In fact, director John Adams, the rest of his lovely cast and all involved backstage in any capacity, have done a superb job to make this, the final Haymarket Theatre production for an unspecified period, a fitting tribute to the creativity of the past at this venue.

The quality of what has been presented for us to enjoy, combined with the circumstances of the Haymarket's forthcoming eight-month closure, should ensure that Basingstoke will take The Borrowers wholly to their hearts in this festive season.


There is a review by The Stage ("delightfully staged and appealing to all ages... a truly enjoyable show").