Review of The Quartet for 15 chairs: Icy story to melt the hardest heart
A LEAFLESS tree, some boulders, and a featureless country landscape. It could be the set for Waiting For Godot. It's "a new Irish fairy tale" by Mike Kenny, brought to Belfast by Barnstorm just a fortnight after its Kilkenny premiere.
Four actors play the sidhe (Irish fairy folk) of the framework narrative, telling the story of a human baby taken by the fairies, and replaced by 'ice child' Johnny, who can't be hugged for fear of melting, and grows up mute and isolated from the other children.
His marginalisation gradually assumed broader significance, becoming gently symbolic of how society treats those who seem radically different.
If it sounded heavy for a children's play it wasn't, with plenty of clever comic content, and an onstage video camera to project live footage onto the backdrop brought added interest.
The actors themselves were winningly garrulous, and only in the protracted scene where the mother bonded with Johnny did the script seem repetitive.
A quirky, thought-provoking modern fairy tale, it was undoubtedly a highlight of the year's Belfast Children's Festival.