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The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking

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Polly March Polly March | 12:22 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Imagine a world where The Borrowers meets Toy Story and you are close to picturing the visual concept that will greet audiences at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven this Christmas.

The impressive set of The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking

The impressive set of The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking

Set in an attic of forgotten items, The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking features broken toys and other discarded household detritus, scaled up to 50 times their normal size, which come alive during the performance.

From a giant cuckoo clock which is home to the two main characters, a toy soldier and a shepherdess, a vast spider and dusty cobwebs to an 8ft Brasso tin and a floor made of discarded annuals, the oversized landscape is an incredible sight to behold.

Set designers have been working round the clock to whip ceiling-high piles of wood and polystyrene into shape thus creating the magical world of the play, a vision dreamt up over a decade ago by artistic director Peter Doran.

An artist building the enormous spider

An artist building the enormous spider

He said: "Some years ago I was talking to the designer at the time about adapting The Borrowers by Mary Norton, because I was fascinated by the idea of the little people living under the floorboards.

"We realised we would find it impossible to stage and so the idea for Cuckoo was born."

Peter wrote the play himself and it was first staged at The Torch 10 years ago. But now that generation of children has grown up he decided to revisit it, adapting the script and adding some extra visual marvels.

"It's basically an incredible world created out of things people shove in their attics and forget about.

"There is a fairy who has been demoted from the Christmas tree, living with a mouse, the shepherdess and soldier near a huge watertank and pipes. Then there is an evil group of woodworm who are the real villains of the piece and I have made them even more menacing this time!

"It's going to be a beautiful set and I think everybody has really enjoyed making it. I created it before the first Toy Story film but obviously that sort of world, where toys come alive, is an exciting one for children to visualise."

It has taken a team of nine, working full time for a month, to create the magical world of The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking.

The overall effect is like a pop-up story book and will be shared with local schools and audiences in a run of more than 50 performances.

The set in detail, including enormous toys

The set in detail, including enormous toys

But it's not just the set they will enjoy, as Peter is very complimentary about his cast as well.

"They are a great bunch of actors and will be working very hard and singing some lovely songs for everybody too."

The first show takes place next Tuesday, 29 November, in front of children from Pembroke Dock Community School. The play then opens to the public on Thursday 22 December and runs until Saturday 31 December.

Tickets can be purchased from the theatre's website, www.torchtheatre.co.uk, or by calling their box office on 01646 695267.


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