Jacqueline Wilson’s Midnight

IAN CLARKE Norwich Theatre Royal


>Norwich Theatre Royal

Anyone with young ladies (and perhaps also some young gents) aged about eight-14 living in their homes will almost certainly have a fair sprinkling of Jacqueline Wilson's works on their bookshelves.

The current Children's Laureate started penning novels when she was in that age bracket herself in post-war England, with the help of some Woolies exercise books.

She has sold about 20 million books and last year was the most borrowed author from UK libraries.

So there was little surprise that an audience approaching 1000 - the vast majority in that Wilson fan club age group - turned up excitedly at the Theatre Royal for the opening night of the Watershed Productions' presentation of Midnight.

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While it is not as well known as works such as Tracy Beaker, Double Act and Bad Girls, Midnight is a magical and intriguing story tracing the dreamy world of slightly frumpy yet loveable 12-year-old schoolgirl Violet.

She has been in the shadow of her controlling older brother Will and also had to cope with a domineer- ing father and sadly weak mother and implications of a damaging family secret which was let slip by her gran.

Violet then has the added heartache of feeling let down by Jasmine, who she thought was her best friend forever.

The stage adaptation portrays excellently the creative genius of Wilson and the audience was captivated by the superb acting of the nine-strong cast and particularly warmed to Violet (Sarah O'Leary) and Will (James Camilleri).

The show has clever special effects which evoke the mood of the story and imaginative puppets which mirror the characters.

Wilson is one of the modern day children's authors who deserves huge credit for reinvigorating reading among youngsters. And the stage adaptation is clearly having a knock-on benefit for the theatre.

t Midnight continues until Saturday, July 30, with shows daily at 2.30 and 7pm. Tickets cost £4-£12.50. Box office: 01603 630000.

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