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BWW Reviews: THE SILVER SWORD, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, October 3 2015

Based on Ian Serraillier's popular children's novel, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Sell A Door Theatre Company have produced a musical adaptation of The Silver Sword which debuted in Coventry last week. It is now embarking on a short tour across the country for the next four weeks.

Ultimately The Silver Sword is a story of optimism. The protagonists of the piece are three children (Edek, Ruth and Bronia) whom were separated from their Father during the Second World War by the Nazis when their home in Warsaw, Poland was destroyed. Although refugees now, it is a continuous struggle but they never lose hope in being reunited as a family. This is further enhanced when they meet Jan who was given the silver sword by their Father; living proof he's still alive. They meet some interesting characters along the way from all walks of life and nationalities.

As adaptor/writer Susie McKenna said in her interview with BWW:UK, this is very much a piece of music theatre rather than the musical adaptation it is dubbed as. Musical director Stephen Edis has channelled Eastern European influences and has created some stunning arrangements. The company are actor-musicians and the direction combined with this - also by McKenna - is well structured. Although unfortunately not being able to see the full extent of the design, Lotte Collett's set is basic but heightened by the animation by Phil Bearman projected at the back of the stage. The bleakness of wartime is appropriately reflected in the monochrome shades of the costumes. Fortunately because the storytelling is strong, visually not a lot is required. The various animal puppets featured are impressive and very well thought out. Scott Brooker has drawn influence from the era and materials have only been used that would have been easy to obtain in the war. The cockerel, for instance, is made out of bits and pieces linked to the kitchen as there is a link to the lack of food. They are operated very competently throughout the show.

Rachel Flynn as the eldest sister Ruth is exceptionally good and is the strength within the piece. Her vocals in particular are brilliant and she has great chemistry with the actors playing her brother and sister. Playing multiple characters, Nathan Turner shines throughout with remarkable guitar playing. He is especially endearing as Russian soldier Ivan. The company work well as a unit and create a cohesive bond of unity which is imperative to the story.

Although bleak in subject matter, The Silver Sword is heart-warming and mesmerising as we journey with the Balicki children to find their Father.

The Silver Sword tours the UK until 7 November 2015.

Photo credit: Nicola Young

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From This Author Jenny Ell