[Victoria Fringe Festival ’16] Re-Imagining Winnie the Pooh & The Tales of 100 Acre Wood

29 Aug

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LOCATION:
Downtown Activity Centre
755 Pandora,
Victoria, BC V8W 1N9

SHOWTIMES:
Wed Aug 31, 9:45pm
Sat Sep 3, 6:45pm
Sun Sep 4, 4:45pm

The 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival production of Winnie the Pooh & Tales of 100 Acre Wood is simply wonderful. Children can enjoy seeing the bedtime pyjama party of Pooh Bear, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Christopher Robin recounting the tales from A. A. Milne‘s 1926 publication. Literary enthusiasts (mostly me) can read into the context being provided to make this production a look into troubled times for the era poignant. Award-winning Victoria local, playwright David Elendune and director Ian Case made a show that’s a delight to seen by all. This team known as Outpost 31 was also involved in last year’s Victoria Fringe Festival show, Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

I was particularly enthralled by the world that frames the story. The vintage radio made me ga-ga over the fact that this show will be a period piece. The set design is beautifully period. The framing narrative sets the tone: the London Blitz is happening, and Britain is facing difficult times. The citizens of this country are finding creative ways to cope, and the children we meet — whom there’s only one we know by name, Chris Robin (Ellen Law), faces the most difficult challenge while sheltered at a hospital.

Imagined or not, to see the enthusiasm from these children play their fondest moments of being at 100 Acre Wood (based on the real-life area located in Ashdown Forest) has lots of charm. Through their eyes, it’s like a visit to Narnia. Reality is injected in between tales, so viewers can feel the context as to why they desire to escape.

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Ian Simms as Winnie The Pooh is as delightful as the Disney animated version, Kelly Hudson as Piglet carries a lot of awkward charm, David Elednune is perfectly cast as the droll Eeyore, Emily Case is just as bouncy as Rabbit and Mellissa Taylor serves double duty as the energetic Tigger and thoughtful Owl.

Law plays the seminal Chris Robin with a delightful and sweet charm. Her friendship with Pooh knows no bounds. They are there thick and thin for each other, especially when Pooh gets stuck under a bed (in our reality) while in the production, it’s based on Chapter 2: “In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place.” A significant amount of tales from Milne’s first book is adapted. “Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle,” “In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One” and “In Which Eeyore has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents” are just a few of the stories recreated.

The characters are reintroduced so new youths can get acquainted with this almost 100-year-old property. When the intellectual rights revert back to the proper holders, I have to wonder just what kind of new interpretations can be made with featuring Pooh and gang. This play is a step in the right direction than the formulaic Disney fare.

5 Stars out of 5

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