In the depths of a forest in Transylvania, poor Father Nandru is having a bad day. The girl with the lop-sided face has eloped with a gipsy, the government is threatening to tear down the village â€“ and the bottle of plum brandy is nearly empty. Clearly, the old priest is in no fit state to deal with the giant wolves that are prowling around his church and padding ever closer.
Writer-director Julian Glover blends real life actors with oversized puppets, which glide through the barley sugar columns and crumbling walls of this gorgeously atmospheric venue. Wiltonâ€™s is, as ever, the perfect place for this kind of off-key fairy tale, allowing the strange story to escape the stage and filter through the building, with a live gipsy band and Eastern European hors dâ€™oeuvres at the bar.
Artistic director Frances Mayhew continues to impress with her innovative and refined programming and the in-house talents of Filippo de Capitani and his team make every visit to Londonâ€™s oldest music hall a delight. On this occasion the visionary set design by Hanne Horte-Garner and the gaggle of exquisite puppets will also leave you spellbound.
Whether â€˜Father Nandru and the Wolvesâ€™ is a show for children is uncertain â€“ the plot does take its time and the Romanian flavour may be an unusual taste for kids used to more sugary American fare. Though judging from the howls and wolf whistles at the end of last nightâ€™s show, this dreamy neo-realist fable will bring out the big kid in anyone.
Father Nandru & The Wolves is on at Wiltonâ€™s Music Hall until 18 April 2014.
Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.