Review: Kiki's Delivery Service @ Southwark Playhouse

Kiki's Delivery Service has landed at Southwark Playhouse!  Perhaps best known for it's animated adaptation by Studio Ghibli, this is the tale of an adventurous young witch, written by Eiko Kadono and adapted for stage by Jessica Sian.  

Eager to set off on her handmade broomstick, the story starts with Kiki persuading her family to let her fly the nest.  After a compromise (agreeing to take her mother's much more reliable broomstick) Kiki takes to the skies with pet cat Jiji and crash lands in a distant town. 

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Tom Greaves, Anna Leong Brophy and Alice Hewkin as Okino, Kokiri and Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Tom Greaves, Anna Leong Brophy and Alice Hewkin as Okino, Kokiri and Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Alice Hewkin as Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Alice Hewkin as Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki is greeted with curiosity and receives a somewhat unfriendly reception from the locals.  But undeterred, and determined to use her magic to do good, she's soon taken in by local baker Osono and agrees to start up a witch's delivery service in exchange for food and lodging.  

This is a tale with a moral at the heart of it, and when Kiki takes on too much work and gets carried away with her magical powers, she ends up learning valuable life lessons from her mishaps.  As Eiko Kadono says: "Kiki will ponder, think things out, and appreciate her gift."

Matthew Forbes is outstanding as Jiji (Kiki's talking cat) moving the puppet effortlessly around the stage, bringing him to life with humour and attitude.  Alice Hewkin captures a feeling of innocence and adventurousness in her performance as Kiki and the rest of cast (just 6 actors in total) switch seamlessly between multiple characters.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Matthew Forbes as Jiji and Alice Hewkin as Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Matthew Forbes as Jiji and Alice Hewkin as Kiki.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Paksie Vernon as Osono.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Kiki's Delivery Service.  Paksie Vernon as Osono.  Image by Richard Davenport.

Imaginative use has been made of a small space, with creative music, puppetry, lighting, props and projection giving the production the magical edge which is needed to do the story justice.  Peppered with lighthearted humour, and genuinely emotional at times, this is an enchanting adaptation that will charm and amuse kids and adults alike.  

You can catch Kiki's Delivery Service at Southwark Playhouse until 8th January 2017.  Tickets are available to purchase here.