Hetty Feather is a book by Jaqueline Wilson. Hetty is baby who is taken to the Foundling Hospital because her mother cannot look after her. She is then fostered out to a family in the country side and has a nice life until it's time for her to return to the Foundling Hospital to be prepared for her future as a servant girl. She hates the hospital and vows to run away and find her real mother, who she believes to be a bare horseback rider she saw in a circus while living with her foster family. She finds her opportunity to escape when they have a very rare day out and she finds the Circus. Does she find her real mother? Is she really the circus lady? I won't spoil the rest of the story for you but there are some scary moments ahead while Hetty searches for her mother.
The Stage Play
Sticking quite close to the book the play begins with Hetty as a baby being brought to the Foundling Hospital by her mother. There are no scene changes as such but the whole stage is set up a little like a circus ring. The floating ribbons and ropes are manouvered around to create different scenes such as the hospital, the trees in the countryside and the circus.
Apart from Hetty all the actors have several parts to play and they do it so good you barely notice that it's the same actor playing her brother, a circus performer or even another girl in her hospital dorm.
There is a lot of action climbing the ladders and swinging from the ropes and ribbons. It's very circus like and totally entertaining. We were all mesmerised from beginning to end.
The music complimented the play rather than taking it over. It was a vital element, but overall it didn't really feel like a musical.
The play is aimed at children seven years or older. I took my almost seven year old and eight year old daughters along with my niece (22 yrs) We all really enjoyed the play although the youngest, Boo, was a little scared at times and Star (8) spent a lot of the show in floods of tears, the final tears were happy ones she said. I wouldn't really recommend the show to younger children although there was a younger child in front of us who appeared to enjoy the show despite asking his mother lots of questions.
The Foundling Hospital
The Foundling Hospital was not actually a hospital but the first ever purposely built children's home for babies born into poverty or social exclusion. It was established by Thomas Coram in London in 1739. The babies were sent away to wet nurses until they were five years old and then were brought back to the instution to recieve a basic education until they were old enough to leave for employment.
Adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves and directed by Sally Cookson
Pheobe Thomas (Holby City) stars as Hetty Feather
The Play will be shown at Birmingham Town Hall from April 22nd to April 29th then will be touring Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Sheffield and Dubai.
Disclaimer: I was given four tickets to see the show for the purpose of this show. Photographs were provided for me to use on my blog. All thoughts and opions are entirely my own.