REVIEW: Dreams of Philomina, Lantern Theatre

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IMAGINE losing someone dear to you - but being granted one last chance to say goodbye properly.

Such is the premise of this delightful and touching all-ages tale by Sheffield actress Beth Caudle and her Leeds partner Naomi Rothwell.

We join Philomina as she loses her devoted husband Albert on a boat trip. But the tragedy takes a positive twist when he is granted a wish before he moves on to the next world.

He opts to see his wife a final time and so begins a slightly surreal trip in which Albert, represented here by a puppet, and his widow, Naomi, pursue an ultimate liaison.

This involves the two actresses employing various techniques of puppetry, audience participation, shrewd lighting, sound effects and music, largely supplied by the clarinet-playing Beth, to match Naomi’s nifty exuberance.

Hence the show works on two levels; yielding plenty of effective, if often-simple visuals, and silliness to keep younger theatregoers occupied, but with a serious heart that brought a tear to the eye of this adult.

While the piece could do with a little tightening in places, notably on the couple’s journey towards brief reunion, these industrious actresses have the makings of a gentle family hit about love and loss. All in all, fitting stuff for this intimate little Sheffield theatre.