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Welcome to the wonderful world of dastardly Dragons, unlikely friendship and astonishing spells. Come and join the mythical adventure that is Merlin!

In collaboration with Royal & Derngate in Northampton, this winter Southampton’s Nuffield Theatre is host to the enchanting story of Merlin, created by Ollie Birch and Ella Hickson and directed by Liam Steel.

As people were taking their seats in what would turn out to be a brimming theatre, children were helping the lovable librarian place books back on the shelves that, much to the giddy children’s delight, continued to fall to the floor – a warm laughter that would continue throughout the show.

The Dragon was so cool! – James, Age 9

Set Designer Yannis Thavoris’s ingenious set of the ‘forbidden library’ consists of awkwardly stacked towering bookcases that were both visually impressive and intriguing, not to mention cleverly equipped with hidden passages that assisted in the smooth transitions of props in between scenes.

Dress rehearsal for the production "Merlin" at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton,

Posing as an amateur production, the story is told by spirited librarians. Andy Purves’ creative lighting production transports the audience to the traditional Kingdom of Camelot, and thus begins the refreshing enactment of a classic fantasy tale. Adam Welsh plays the clumsy Merlin, quite convincingly I might add, alongside the feisty Gwen (Kayla Meikle) and the honourable and upstanding Prince Arthur (Fred Lancaster). Each of the characters face their fair share of trials and tribulations, yet as friends they triumph over all, including individual struggles of duty, encounters with antiquated gender restrictions and the innate desire of all – to find a genuine feeling of belonging – all of which take place on a beautiful journey of heartwarming loyalty and self-discovery.

The eight-person cast demonstrates exceptional talent, each adopting multiple roles impressively, singing and contributing musically alongside BAFTA nominee Rob Castell. Sophie Reid’s mesmerizing call as The Lady of the Lake was hauntingly wonderful and held a clue to the secret to the story – a secret you will have to find out first hand! A scene that really stood out was that of the humorous bunnies, whom, posing as bouncers, sang a song called ‘Give It A Go’ that was energetic, upbeat and contained an inspiring message everyone in the audience appreciated.

Dress rehearsal for the production "Merlin" at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton,

Merlin in his plate armour and… um… bicycle… helmet?

Director Liam Steel’s attention to detail was undeniable, from a frightening red eyed dragon to the interval music, which included such songs as Take That’s ‘Could it be Magic’ and Queen’s hit ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’, all of which enhanced the wonderful aura of mysticism that enveloped the theatre that night.

Perfect for the whole family, I think I laughed as much as my kids! – Karen 39

Perfect for all ages, the narrative of the play is easy to follow as well as being complimented with plentiful one-liners and innuendos – particularly when protecting the crown jewels!

Excellently executed and wonderfully entertaining, this show is a perfect alternative to traditional pantomime. Let the simple beauty of friendship and the potent possibilities of magic awaken your inner child, vivify your imagination and cast its charm on you this Christmas!

Dress rehearsal for the production "Merlin" at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton,

Prices range from £10.00 – £22.00

For more information and to book your ticket visit www.nuffieldtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/merlin

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