The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Hobbit

Adapted by Glyn Robbins from the book entitled “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Directed by Susan Ferley
Performed by Daniel Roberts, Stephen Gartner, Patrick Kwok-Choon et al.
Grand Theatre, London
April 27 to May 26, 2011
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Long Night’s Journey in Middle Earth

As an English student in university years ago, I didn’t enjoy reading Tolkien: I found it a struggle. Yes, I understand that there are themes of growth and quest, but I didn’t feel the attraction. A few years back, I didn’t like the movies: I never did see the entire trilogy. Then, there were only a few parts of The Lord of The Rings musical that I enjoyed. Sorry, LOTR fans, I just don’t get it.

And unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the play, The Hobbit. Too much sameness: After the first few minutes I understood that we were on an epic journey, a quest in search of a dragon – and then the journey takes way too long.

The Hobbit, a new play based on the old story, has its Canadian premier in London at the Grand Theatre.

The wizard Gandolf recruits a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, to go on an adventure with him and a gang of dwarves. Along the way, they meet and fight with trolls, goblins, wolves, woodsmen, spiders and so on. Unfortunately, it seems like every enemy they meet up with growls like angry dogs and walks about the stage hunched over with arms flailing. The woodsmen were almost a pleasant break from the rest, doing a dance while swinging their axes. At one point, the dwarves cross a river by swinging on vines, which offers a diversion.

The hobbit’s encounter with the creepy Gollum is interesting, particularly as they challenge each other with riddles. But at times, it’s difficult to understand Gollum’s idiomatic language – perhaps the cadence isn’t quite right.

The costumes are well done, colourful and fascinating, right down to oversized hobbit feet. The set looks like authentic Middle Earth, but when it rotates, it just looks like more of the same. The rotation provides the opportunity for the characters to trudge along on their journey. The occasional fireworks added some excitement.

If someone loved reading The Hobbit, this show offers the opportunity to see the characters brought to life from the pages of the book. Children might enjoy the journey, and be appropriately thrilled by the pyrotechnics, scary encounters, and vibrant costumes. But unless you are a true fan, it is a long evening.

The Hobbit continues at the Grand Theatre in London until May 26. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 519-672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593, or visit www.grandtheatre.com

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