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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The Bee Man of Orn

Newbury Youth Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre

Venue: The Quaker Meeting House, Venue 40


Low Down

 This is Newbury Youth Theatre’s adaptation of Frank Stockton’s magical tale about a man in search of himself. 


Amy and Tony Trigwell-Jones have done a wonderful job adapting and presenting The Bee Man, a book by Frank Stockton. The Bee Man lives in the Land of Orn long ago before there was war or fear. A Sorcerer arrives in Orn and tells the Bee Man to go on a quest to discover his former self. On this journey of self-discovery the Bee Man travels far and wide travelling through the bridge of treachery, a petrified forest, an enchanted ocean, the court of a cruel king and the cave of the Very Imp.
The quest begins when the Bee Man meets a talking Pike who takes him on an underwater adventure where he meets the largest creature to inhabit the earth, the great blue whale. The whale tells him to go to the Palace to ask the Queen for advice. As his quest continues he encounters a sleeping dragon who has kidnapped an infant. With cunning and courage the Bee Man rescues the baby and stares into the infant’s eyes to discover who he was before he was the Bee Man: a baby.
This allegorical tale of a man’s quest to find his true self is told by the 24 members of the Newbury Youth Theatre.  With the use of yellow, honeycombed shaped boxes the stage was transported into various locations that included a castle, mountains, a cottage, an ocean and a beehive.
The ensemble of young actors portrayed underwater creatures, bees, a king, and men and women of various ages with enthusiasm and skill. Interspersed into the action were lively songs sung by beautiful voices accompanied by a strolling guitar player.
The audience of children enjoyed the puns embedded throughout the story telling. I especially enjoyed watching the delight with which the audience reacted when the actors, as bees, went into the audience and interacted with the children. I highly recommend this funny, beautiful production to the young and old. This is storytelling at the highest level, told with vigour and intelligence that completely engages adults as well as children.