The Box of Photographs at the Polka Theatre

publication date: Apr 26, 2016
author/source: Alex Bell

Box of Photographs Polka TheatreA visit to the Polka Theatre is a delight. The theatre doors were opened to all the guests with a cheerful smile from two delightful members of the Polka staff team.

Toby and Pippa chose to walk straight through the inside play and book areas to the gorgeous garden bursting with play house, games and outdoor equipment. Appetites were awoken and the Polka café was on hand for a bag of gourmet popcorn and a drink. At 11 Toby seemed too tall for the café’s wooden train table and benches but he and Pippa slid in to the seats for a snack before the show. 

The Box of Photographs is an extremely clever show inspired by an archive of photographs from the V&A Museum of Childhood taken by Donne Buck and a story writing competition for eight to 11 year olds. The children were asked to imagine what was happening in the collection of vintage photographs of children at play. The best bits of the winning stories were then woven into the story by David Jamieson. 

The play is set in the bedroom of 11-year-old Chelsea who has just moved into a new flat with her mum, after her dad and mum split up. The cast consists of Chelsea and her mum who also plays the part of the house’s previous owner. Underneath her bed Chelsea finds a box of photographs and the two fabulous actresses weave wonderful stories about the images. 

Pippa loved The Box of Photographs and having just turned eight she was an ideal age. She particularly liked the set, the surprises, right level of fear and magic conjured by the stories and completely believed that Jessica Hayles who played Chelsea was a real 11-year-old dealing with her parent’s separation and escaping into her own world. Toby at 11 was a more critical audience, he felt the play was better suited to eight and nine year olds. He liked the special effects and how silly and spooky the stories were.

We would recommend The Box of Photographs to all story loving seven to nine year olds. It is a clever, touching and funny adventure into a world of imagination where a bed becomes a flying horse and photographs transport you to another time and place. The creative team behind this show have sensitively and intelligently taken the essence of the children’s stories and created a lovely show.

PWT rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

The Box of Photographs by Daniel Jamieson, directed by Sarah Punshon, based on shortlisted stories by Key Stage 2 Primary School students is on at the Polka Main Stage until 15 May 2016.

Please check performance times at Polka Theatre