A Lively Way Into The Poems Of Ted Hughes On Offer In Wimbledon

Review: The Tiger's Bones and Other Stories at the Polka Theatre

The Tiger’s Bones - what a funny old kettle of fish it is. Three strange tales rattle along under a skeletal set, fashioned out junk – satellite dishes, old TV aerials and the like. 

The 70-minute show has been created from the rarely-seen children’s plays of Ted Hughes, possibly England’s greatest poet of recent times.

The show bursts onto stage with dramatic acoustic percussion and a raggle-taggle band of characters, from power-mad scientist to the devil and her cat. But what’s arresting from the start is Hughes’s compelling, rhythmic language that had Thursday afternoon’s lively school audience in its thrall. 

The first story is an oddly unseasonal nativity from the innkeeper couple’s perspective, peopled with sinister preacher man, dodgy dealer and fortune teller. In the second play we move into fairytale territory; the young man off to seek his fortune, who takes the road to the woods and dines at the devil’s house. And in the final tale a team of scientists travel the world bringing their version of progress to the ‘savages’ before a meteor hits the earth.

For me the weak point was the storytelling. The tales were nicely odd, but didn’t really go anywhere. They seem to talk about big issues; religion, myths, the environment … but as one of the characters himself points out it’s not clear what the moral of the story is, exactly.

The big strength is in the telling; the extravagant punchy rhymes, that turn into rousing musical numbers, and the passion and energy of the four players, who keep the action bouncing along.

So if you’re looking for a lively way into Hughes’s poetry and a very original piece of kids' drama, catch the show while it’s here.

By Elizabeth Thompson

What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?

February 25, 2016

Related links
Related Links

The Tiger's Bones and Other Stories is at the Polka Theatre until Sunday February 28