The Hobbit at Wycombe Swan: 20 - 24 AprilBy Amanda Woodard
May 05, 2010
The Hobbit, otherwise known as Bilbo Baggins, lives in a mythical world of dwarves, elves, goblins, dragons and trolls known as Middle Earth. Transforming Wycombe Swan into this fantastical land proved quite a challenge for the show's director Roy Marsden.
To start with the show was 10 minutes late in starting and this slow beginning continued as Gandalf, sorcerer of Middle Earth and a key character in the drama played by Christopher Robbie, failed to ignite the audience with lack lustre performance. Fortunately, the show did start to live up to its dramatic credentials as Bilbo Baggins, played by Peter Howe who stole the show with his wonderful performance in the lead role, took over proceedings ably assisted by Andrew Coppin as Thorin Oakenshield and his merry band of dwarves.
As Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves embark on their journey to the Misty Mountains to reclaim the kingdom and treasure of Thorin Oakenshield's ancestors they encounter a series of hurdles including giant spiders, wolves, trolls and goblins in a journey none of them will forget and Mr Marsden hopes the audience won't too.
The production team works wonders with the costumes, scenery and special effects and I did wonder if a costume or set designer from the Dr Who series had infiltrated the team at any point for on more than one occasion it reminded me of the iconic BBC series. The piece de la resistance is Smaug the dragon. With his red glowing eyes, huge swishing tale and gigantic mouth and teeth he really does impose himself on the stage putting the fear of God into Bilbo Baggins and the audience.
As a book, The Hobbit has all the ingredients for a blockbuster - dragons, treasure, warring forces, evil elves, wizards and an unlikely hero. Converting this is to the stage is a Herculean task and one to which Mr Marsden has an admirable bash at although not an altogether successful one.