Marilyn Campbell (text), The Fairytale Plays, Series 1: Plays for Young Actors, Spindrift Publishing, 22 Feb 2018, 105pp., $38.00 (pbk), ISBN: 9780980749243
The Fairytale Plays contains three scripts designed to be performed by schools, based on the fairytales Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Puss in Boots. They are traditional re-tellings with fairly standard characters (some renamed), although the language used has a modern feel overall, especially Puss in Boots. In Rapunzel there is a narrator who speaks in rhyme, whilst in Rumpelstiltskin the chorus also speak in rhyme, but other than that, it is standard dialogue throughout. There are some ‘ye olde fairytale’ words here and there, such as characters saying ‘woe is me’. Each play is designed to be performed by 8-12 year olds and the content is appropriate to this age range, avoiding the darker aspects of the traditional tellings of these tales.
The plays are well set out, with a clear breakdown at the beginning of each one that includes how many acts, the length of the play, the subjects explored and the ages it is suitable for, as well as a guide to how many cast are needed of which gender. Next there is a breakdown of characters, with indications again of whether they are played by male, female or either. The gender balance of parts is fairly even in each play. The scripts also indicate how many stagehands are required.
There is a vibrant, full colour image at the beginning of each play. The font size is large, making it very user friendly as a script, with stage directions clearly delineated. Overall the layout will help even those who haven’t directed before to put on a production. In order to perform the plays, rights need to be acquired through Spindrift Publishing. The plays range from a 45 minute performance time to up to 2 hours for Puss in Boots.
The plays themselves are dynamic, with touches of comedy and a good pace. The story structure is traditional, and good triumphs over evil, with a happy ending each time. The staging would be reasonably simple for all three. Puss in Boots in particular has a cheeky, vibrant central character that would be a lot of fun to perform, but overall the characterisation is good, with a variety of larger and smaller parts to provide opportunities for more and less confident actors. Although there is a chorus written into each play, there is very little for them to do, so the plays are more suited to a class rather than a whole school production.
Reviewed by Rachel Le Rossignol