Monday, 23 June 2014

The Summer Book - the Unicorn theatre


THE relationship between a grandmother and her young granddaughter is the subject of Tove Jansson's The Summer Book.
The beautifully crafted story has been translated into a fantastic stage production now on at The Unicorn Theatre in Tooley Street.
It stars Sara Kestelman as the Grandmother and Sammy Foster and Amy Snudden who alternate the role of Sophia the granddaughter.
It is set on a remote island in Finland where six-year-old Sophia and her grandmother spend the summer months together.
At first their relationship is somewhat tense and frosty as they both adapt to each other, their surroundings, characters and find out more about how each other ticks.
But gradually a deep and profund love emerges between the pair as they explore the island together, get to know each other, help each other and see things from each others point of view.
There is also a confidence that emerges between the two as they grow more at ease with each other and in Sophia's case, her surroundings - from dipping her toe in the water to eventually diving off the cliffs and to exploring the island on her own.
It is very much a story of love, understanding, life and loss as well as adventure and an exploration of life and the dialogue between the pair brings out all of these emotions.
It is also an incredibly beautiful and gentle piece and incredibly emotional.
On the night I saw it Sara Kestelman was joined by Sammy Foster as Sophia and the bond between the pair was fantastic.
Mention must also be made of the ingenious set on the thrust stage. A bed sits at the back of the stage which slopes forward towards the audience and which has been created to look like grassland on a cliff top and allows Sophia to give the impression she is diving, swimming, dipping her toe in the water or even getting stuck in a ravine.
It is billed as being suitable for those aged six and over but it will have resonance with anyone who has had a deep bond with their own grandparent. Just beautiful.

The Summer Book is on at the Unicorn Theatre, Tooley Street until June 29. Tickets cost £16 for adults, £13 concessions and £10 for under 21s. Call the box office on 020 7645 0560 or visit  

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