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Review: The Story Giant at Liverpool Everyman ****

When you’re a child, time seems to go on forever. Whereas when you become an adult, the world appears to spin ever faster.

Consider this. We’re already at the half-way stage in the new Everyman Rep’s inaugural season of plays – a week in to the fortnight run of the third production out of five.

And time is precious to the central character in The Story Giant too. Because it’s running out for the collector of all the stories in the world, and if he can’t find the one missing tale for his collection, he, his home, and all the fables, fairytales and tall tales he has assembled will turn to dust.

Richard Bremmer cuts quite a figure as the titular giant, and with his flowing locks, flowing coat and outbursts of energy and irascibility he’s rather like the first, third and fourth Doctors rolled in to one – a Story Time Lord if you were, but who can’t quite manipulate the space time continuum any more.

Brian Patten’s imaginative, poetic tale – adapted for the stage by Lindsay Rodden – is a wonderfully warm and charming story which will appeal to the child lurking deep inside all of us.

And there’s plenty to enthral both young audience members (who are encouraged to take one of the mossy green stools at the front) and adults.

Certainly, silence (almost) reigned with most of the children around me in the theatre watching with rapt attention, their little faces glued to the action unfolding up, under and around the set’s Magic Faraway Tree-style centrepiece.

Into the Story Giant’s world come four children from across the globe, travelling there in a shared dream.

There’s Asha Kingsley’s serene Rani, who works in a Pattna laundry but whose imagination cannot be contained within its four steamy walls; American Betts (Melanie La Barrie), forced by circumstance to be older than her years; shy and uncertain Liverpudlian Liam (Elliott Kingsley) whose best friend is a jackdaw, and bright, story-spouting Syrian Hassan (Tom Kanji – a livewire in a dragon onesie), whose bed is the back seat of his family car fleeing in the night.

The adult actors inhabit the children’s world with a believable mixture of wide-eyed openness and innocence, and worries beyond their tender years. The Story Giant needs them – but they also need him.

A rich vein of physical and verbal humour helps keep what could be a dark fable about death light and hopeful.

In essence, The Story Giant is an enchanting day or evening at the theatre for story lovers of all ages.

All photographs by Stephen Vaughan.

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