CONSISTING of a cast of Year 7 and 8s, ‘Emil and the Detectives’ tells the story of a 10-year-old country boy named Emil who, for the first time on his own, is about to embark on a trip to see his grandmother in Berlin. However, on the train ride Emil meets Mr Snow – a mysterious figure identified by his unique moustache and bowler hat – who robs Emil of his money whilst he is asleep. Although, the story isn’t over for Emil just yet as he teams up with a gang of other children, whom he meets in Berlin, in order to retrieve his stolen money.
Emil was played by Toby Calvo, who effectively portrayed Emil’s character development throughout the play as we watch him go from a nervous countryside boy to a streetwise and confident young man. Toby’s performance was consistently strong and he certainly had a secure presence on the stage. Joining Emil on his mission to retrieve his money is Toots, a mischievous character who could be associated with Oliver’s ‘The Artful Dodger’. The role of Toots was taken on by Isobel Guyer, who excellently brought to life the prankish but likeable character. Henry Petherick played The Professor, another city child who joins Emil’s team, and did a fantastic job embodying the sophistication of his character. Esme Dunn, as Tuesday, had no problems presenting Tuesday’s child-like excitement when she pleads the other characters to let her join in on the action. Pony the Hat is Emil’s cousin and was played by Cecily Gordon. Cecily had a great stage presence and interacted well with Isobel Guyer to successfully highlight the growing friendship between their characters. Concluding the gang was: Hilde (Lottie Thomas), Arnie (Rikhil Matur), Petzgold (George Stephens), Gerda (Mia Rolfe) and Isaac (James Cowley). Each one of these performers worked together fantastically to show the authentic comradery of the gang, sharing the spotlight as a group of likeable and unique characters.
In terms of the adults, Hugh Torlesse was a stand-out in his role as Grandma, creating much comedy for the audience in his interactions with the other characters. Hugh should very much be commended for his confidence performing a role that would be outside the comfort zone for a lot of young performers his age. As Emil’s mother, Sophie Dean portrayed an authentic maternal nature in her role and convincingly showed Mrs Tischbein’s nervous attitude towards Emil’s adventures throughout the city. Alesya Giles-Burge was very comedic as Mrs Wirth, and had the audience laughing consistently with her throughout her early scene with Emil and Mrs Tischbein. The Man from the 177 was brought to life by Jack Skelhorn, who showed us that some adults can be nice in his performance of the kind-hearted character.
Of course, we cannot forget about the nasty adult, Mr Snow himself. Hettie Guyer kept us on the edge of our seats as we tried to understand more about her mysterious character. Hettie’s performance was strong yet well controlled – especially in the moment when Mr Snow pulls a knife out on Emil. This moment had gasps from the audience as everyone waited, unable to predict Mr Snow’s next move.
The play would certainly have not been the same without its fantastic ensemble, who added atmosphere to each scene, particularly the busy city scenes, and kept the stage alive throughout the show. A particular mention must go to solo singers: Eve Kittoe, Megan Bungard and Evelyn Woodward, who each sang beautifully and with no visible nervousness.
I also think that it is especially important to give a special mention to the students on the tech and backstage team, who were so professional in their work that they had me convinced that it was a team of adults on the tech boards and behind the scenes.
Emily Chadwick’s direction is to be commended as I, with the rest of the audience, thoroughly enjoyed watching the show and was engaged for the performance’s entire run-time. As a departing Year 13 Drama student, I have every confidence that King’s Company has a very promising future as this talented set of actors and professional behind-the-scenes crew move up through the school.