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A Winter’s Trail review at Theatre Royal Brighton – ‘enchanting promenade’

A Winter's Trail at Theatre Royal Brighton A Winter's Trail at Theatre Royal Brighton

Theatre Royal Brighton’s stage gets only a passing glance in this seasonal show with a small but significant footprint. A Winter’s Trail is squeezed instead into the historic building’s multiple secret spaces, including the spiralling north and south towers. Thoughtfully devised for three to seven-year-olds, it’s the antithesis of bums-on-seats storytelling.

Family Arts Festival award-winner Herringbone Arts is a local company specialising in promenade pieces and puppetry. They’re a gift to Theatre Royal Brighton as it mines its building in new ways, sneaking in a small alternative programme alongside the big touring buy-ins.

The audience joins the Fairy Detective Agency on a mission to find missing theatre elf Sylvan. We visit a tiny cottage in a paper-cut wood, and follow footprints stamped in UV ink. Performers Lloyd Ryan Thomas and Eva Savage skillfully manage the shifts – both between spaces and within the gently mercurial tone. Waifish puppets in miniature Nordic knits magnetise the most fickle attentions.

There’s a strong message about the magic of shared moments, and a more implicit one, in every lovingly homemade prop, about the joys of getting crafty. Coloured transparencies on the windows transform the view over Pavilion Gardens. Herringbone has turned Theatre Royal Brighton into a living advent calendar, and invited us inside.

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A fairytale on foot around Theatre Royal Brighton’s secret spaces