Bakehouse Theatre
Until 11 Mar 2017

Review by John Wells

A rag-tag bunch of urchins swirls slowly around the stage. They are clad in rags and they sing like an otherworldly choir. This group of wide-eyed gypsies begin to tell the tragic story of the Children’s Crusade.

The tale is told by a fallen but humane priest and his prostitute companion. They describe the legend of the boy prophet Nicholas, who led a group of children from Germany to the Ligurian coast, where he expected the Mediterranean to part for him. (Eight-hundred-year spoiler alert: things didn’t end well…)

There is great energy and enthusiasm from Scrambled Prince Theatre Company, a group that appears to have burst from Eltham High School in Victoria. The acting quality is variable, but the cast is always engaging and committed. The large ensemble is backed by a wonderful five-piece band, and the music is perfectly integrated into the action. There are some moments of wonderful stage-craft and emotion.

While the text is prosaic, the themes of religious disenchantment, the leonine strength of feminine love, and the danger of following charismatic leaders are well handled. There are some lovely curiosities left to the audience’s imagination: are the performers the unsettled souls of the dead children, are they post-apocalyptic story-tellers, or are they the sad memories of the profane priest?

3 stars (out of 5)

No program was available for this play. The names of the performers and the details of the creative team were therefore not known.