Magical Christmas tale in Brighton

It’s an exciting year for Brighton’s Truestory Theatre company as they ring the changes.

Gary Sefton
Gary Sefton

This year they are offering new writing in a new venue, switching from The Spire, their home so far, for a new adventure at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Blu & the Magic Web offers a new fairy-tale adventure, written by Truestory artistic director Gary Sefton, who also directs the show and will be appearing as the spider.

Once upon a time, there was a village: a village hidden by a wood covered with cobwebs, a village where all the children have disappeared – all, that is, except Blu…

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Performances run from December 9-31 with two or three shows a day (www.attenboroughcentre.com).

Gary said: “It’s a new work. I adapted all the other things that we did but they have always been more classic stories. But with this one I started the journey trying to think about fairy tales and how they can resonate now without you getting shot at! I’m thinking in terms of things like Sleeping Beauty, her being kissed while asleep without consent, that sort of issue. But the idea was to do something a bit more contemporary and also something that tried to represent more of the world that we are actually living in.

“We have done A Christmas Carol and that always rings out because it’s very much like looking back over what you have done in your life but we wanted to do something different this year. This is a fairly simple story about the last child in a village trying to rescue lots of fairy tale characters from the woods but it is still a contemporary world we’re looking at.

“We are aiming for a very visual kind of storytelling and trying to get to the heart of the story. The performance will be about an hour and ten minutes, an hour and 15 minutes and will run straight through. We always run straight through. It allows us to have reasonably priced tickets. We are really keen on access and making this accessible to as many people as possible. I started writing this during the first lockdown and it went through different connotations and evolved into something different. I started off with something which was more about witches, about how a witch became a witch but I could not quite get the voice of the witch right and so the character transformed into a huge spider that captures children.

“I try to write the story first and then the theme second, but really the piece is about being different and the fact that it’s OK to be different. I just think in that respect you have got to go with the world and change with the world. You realise that the world has changed really quite dramatically and you’ve got to keep up with it. The world is also being changed by Covid, but as I say this is about being different. And we live in Brighton and I love the fact that you can walk down the street and everyone is so varied and I think I was just wanting to try to reflect that aspect of Brighton to the audience so that they can see themselves in a way in the show.”

The show sees the company move from The Spire to the Attenborough Centre: “We love The Spire but this is more comedy based and comedy is quite tricky in the Spire because there is a delay vocally. The Spire is fantastic. It holds that Victorian gothic world of A Christmas Carol really beautifully but this is set in a wood and we decided that we just wanted to venture out and try something new.”