Illyria triumph with The Emperor’s New Clothes at Lytham Hall

Things got a bit cheeky towards the end of the Emperors New Clothes - luckily the sun was shining at Lytham Hall
Things got a bit cheeky towards the end of the Emperors New Clothes - luckily the sun was shining at Lytham Hall

It’s a tale about the dangers of frivolousness and vanity with some serious lessons on mass deception.

And the talented travelling players of Illyria served it all up with gusto - with a pair of buttocks and regal codpiece thrown in for good measure.

The action was set in 1837 and once again the Georgian setting of Lytham Hall and its gardens was the perfect place for open air theatre.

The energetic performance (especially impressive considering the baking sun) delighted the audience - including the many children, who enjoyed proceedings from their picnic rugs at the front.

In the original Hans Christian Andersen story, it was a child in the crowd who finally pierced the delusion and told the king he was in fact naked.

To everyone’s delight here, the emperor paraded on to the stage with just his crown jewels on display (or near enough, thanks to a strategic crown), and the enthusiastic young audience played their part magnificently.

The performance was so successful that it developed into a fine almost impromptu panto - but without the usual clichés.

The two swindlers who take everyone in with the yarn they spin made excellent panto villains.

The plot also had serious points to consider with references to austerity and the dangers of being taken in by a ‘big lie’. These were delivered, but without things getting too heavy.

The five-person cast were wonderfully versatile - each taking on a number of different roles in quick succession.

The pace of proceedings didn’t slow down as they moved from character to character - and even sped up when a ‘horse’ galloped through the picnic tables and camping chairs.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (and The Mikado two weeks ago) at Lytham Hall had the biggest audiences of the theatre group’s whole UK tour - a testament to the successful combination of their skill and the perfect surroundings.