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Boy in the Lighthouse, Hostry Festival review: “There is no one who is excluded here”

PUBLISHED: 14:07 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:15 23 October 2018

Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

Copyright Simon Finlay 2018

Eve Stebbing reviews The Boy in the Lighthouse - the central production at the Hostry Festival 2018 in Norwich.

Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

Artistic Director, Rebecca Chapman, describes her work with Total Ensemble Theatre Company as ‘inclusive’.

That is not to say, as I heard one apprehensive member of the public mutter, that the audience is included pantomime-style in the action.

There’s no hissing or booing, and definitely no getting on stage with the performers.

Inclusive refers to the company itself.

Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.Total Ensemble present 'The Boy in the Lighthouse' at the 2018 Hostry Festival. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

There is no one who is excluded here, no matter how old or young, how able bodied or otherwise.

The only criteria for involvement is the willingness to commit, wholeheartedly to the project.

And my, how it shows. From the minute this incredible cast steps onto the stage, the conviction in the world they create is absolute - and that’s spell-binding.

It’s also just as well, as the flights of fancy they want to take us on would stretch the suspension of disbelief in any other production too far. They might even make us step away from the action and switch off.

Here, the wilder the whole thing becomes, the more entangled we become.

The narrative follows the story of a boy in a lighthouse.

READ MORE: All the winners from the Norfolk Arts Awards 2018

With him are various characters, including a fortune teller who has been shut in a box so long, he barely knows that he is human.

They need to unlock the mysteries of their past in order to gain self understanding, and so become free.

The fairy-tale quality of the storytelling gives the evening a child-like charm.

But the show is far from simple.

It’s a highly complex, many layered affair, that uses movement, sound, song, dialogue, voice-over and poetry to bring to life the rich experience of these characters and the ensemble that created them.

Like Shakespeare’s The Tempest, any world might spring up on the rocky island the lighthouse inhabits.

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As quickly as one reality comes jingling up from the imagination, it is superseded by another, equally strange.

But strange is life. And as the boundless energy of this cast attests, anything is possible.

Boy in the Lighthouse is on in the Hostry at Norwich Cathedral until Saturday, October 27 and you can purchase tickets here

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