Wilton's Box Of Delights Is A Mixed Bag

Box Of Delights, Wilton’s Music Hall ★★★☆☆

Phillipa Ellis
By Phillipa Ellis Last edited 74 months ago

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Wilton's Box Of Delights Is A Mixed Bag Box Of Delights, Wilton’s Music Hall 3
Photo: Alastair Muir

Breaking their tradition of thigh-slapping panto (Roy Hudd last year was a corker), this year’s seasonal offering at Wilton’s Music Hall is an extravaganza but with a shift towards the bleaker side of Christmas, in the first ever stage adaptation of John Masefield’s popular 1930s mid-winter story, The Box of Delights — a dark tale of mystery, magic and folklore.

Photo: Alastair Muir

We applaud productions brave enough to kick against the seasonal schmaltz. From exciting trap doors in floors and cupboards, to a talking disembodied head and spectacular floods, Tom Piper’s stage set is a big draw. Ambitious projections lose out to the lighting, but natural acoustics beautifully compliment choral interjections of festive song. The trickery, the villains and the swashbuckling trio of brave cousins, also provide a healthy portion of mystery and adventure.

Should you or your offspring be too young to remember the acclaimed 80s TV adaptation, be prepared for some questions and fidgeting throughout the 2 hour run. Between the parallel story lines, time travel, and the cast playing multiple characters, it's impossible at times not to get tied in knots.

Photo: Alastair Muir

If, like Josefina Gabrielle’s deliciously vampish witch Pouncer, you ‘don’t approve of children being too clever’, then you might have to feed them Haribo to keep them quiet, which would be unfortunate for Wilton’s bold punt on a crowd-pleasing family show.

Box Of Delights, Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Grace’s Alley, E1 8JB. Until 6 January 2018.  £20 - £35 (plus concessions). Age guidance: 7+.

Last Updated 12 December 2017