By Joanna Shaw
As part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Z-arts presented the internationally-acclaimed Into The West, a play by the Travelling Light Theatre company, based upon the 1992 film directed by Mike Newell.
Into The West tells the story of to young Irish Traveller children, Ally and Finn, who live in a high-rise flat in the busy city of Dublin. One day, their Grandfather brings home a magical white horse named Tir na n’Og, and together they embark on a dangerous and exciting adventure into the west.
The cast of Into The West consisting of four – three actors and a musician accompanying the story with upbeat, sometimes mournful, traditional Irish music. Together they make use of minimal stage props to make the viewers use their imagination, acting out three roles each.
The sound effects and actions are all portrayed convincingly so by the end of the play, you are certain there is a horse in the room.
The play serves to highlight the racial issues that the Traveller community face in their everyday lives in a simple way that younger viewers can relate to. It also plays upon the themes of old Irish folktales to give the story its magical element.
At the end of the play, many members of the audience were stunned to silence, some even moved to tears by its bittersweet ending.
Festival Director and audience member Kaye Tew thoroughly praised the theatre company’s imaginative thinking. She commented, “It was fantastic, thoroughly moving. Anyone who has a chance to see this play must go!”
Sheena Bennett, attending with her younger children, said, “My 15-year-old daughter would have loved this play! I think any young adult theatre students and theatre lovers should definitely go and see this.”
Into The West concludes its tour at the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol, from the 29th June – 17th July.
Missed this play in Manchester? Check out what the Travelling Light Theatre company are doing next on their website.
The Manchester Children’s Book Festival runs from 24th June – 3rd July. Download the 2016 brochure for information on upcoming events.