Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Tin Soldier review at Festival Theatre Studio, Edinburgh – ‘celebratory’

Robert Softley Gale, Lauren Gilmour, Joseph Brown, Audrey Tait and Caroline Parker in The Tin Soldier. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
by -

Hans Christian Andersen’s story of a broken tin soldier, rejected by his owner, is given an inclusive twist in this new staging by Birds of Paradise.

Mike Kenny’s adaptation, set in an institutional home where disabled children are dumped and forgotten, focusses as much on the telling of the tale as the story itself.

Emerging from a set of cardboard boxes, five children from the home recall their time there and explain how they told stories to each other. Then they tell the tin soldier’s tale one more time.

This framing device allows for a deconstruction of both Andersen’s story and the circumstances the children find themselves in. The different layers of storytelling, as the characters remember their childhood, says much about difference and how society views the disabled.

Robert Softley Gale plays the comically egotistical Jack. He hates the story of the tin soldier as it reflects his own life too much. This is Birds of Paradise’s first show for a family audience and director Garry Robson focusses on the joy of storytelling. He’s helped in this by Lauren Gilmour and Audrey Tait’s exuberant delivery of their melodic (if not particularly memorable) songs and Victor Nikonenko’s clever set.

Though Kenny’s adaptation could stand to put more trust in the power of the audience’s imaginations, it remains a celebratory and thought-provoking piece of Christmas theatre.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Inclusive and celebratory retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story