REVIEW: Hetty Feather, Chichester Festival Theatre, until January 31.

Lily (left) and friends with Dame Jacqueline

Lily (left) and friends with Dame Jacqueline

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As a devoted Jacqueline Wilson fan I was thrilled to be invited to review this production by Phil Hewitt – and I wasn’t disappointed.

A faithful adaptation of Dame Jacqueline’s best-selling Hetty Feather story, this show has everything; laughter, music, drama and plenty of surprises.

When Hetty (Phoebe Thomas) is abandoned at the Foundling Hospital in London she finds it hard to obey the rules. We join her on an incredible journey as she sets out to find her real mother.

Although it is not a big cast, the characters are every bit as colourful and memorable as those in the book. They also work really hard and are all on stage throughout.

The acting is brilliant. The adult cast play children so convincingly that I completely forgot that they were grown-ups.

Phoebe Thomas is just how imagined Hetty to be; feisty, kind-hearted and headstrong. Matt Costain made ghastly Matron Bottomly every bit as mean and horrid as she should be, while Sarah Goddard as Peg and Ida was just the opposite, giving Hetty the love and comfort she desperately needs.

Nik Sowden as Saul and Mark Kane as Gideon, Hetty’s foster brothers, were also brilliant; exactly as I saw them when I was ‘picturing’ (something Hetty does a lot of!). Making me believe that she was really riding horses, Nikki Warwick as acrobatic Madame Adeline was both glamorous and funny.

Including a clever circus trapeze set designed by Katie Sykes, the on-stage musical duo, Seamas H Carey and Luke Potter,who sing and play loads of instruments, including a very amusing bit at the very start, add greatly to the comedy, atmosphere and entertainment of the production.

Grabbing you and taking you into Hetty’s world, even if you’ve never read a Jacqueline Wilson book before this is a fantastic family show that will definitely delight. A 10 out of 10 show that is not to be missed, my friends and I had a magical evening. We even got the chance to say hello to Dame Jacqueline who was in the audience!

Lily Barkes, age 11.

Box Office: 01243 781312 www.cft.org.uk.

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