Review: Goblin Market, Greenside at Royal Terrace

Jenifer Jewell’s adaptation of Goblin Market, fresh from Off Broadway in New York, is a retelling of the beloved poem by Christina Rossetti that breathes new life into the story by setting it in Depression-era South America. It is a one woman show in which Jewell successfully embodies the wildly varied characters of the poem.

Goblin Market is a Victorian poem which tells the tale of two sisters who are tempted by goblins with ‘forbidden fruits’, but who ultimately overcome their evil with the power of their love for each other. It explores themes of sisterhood, redemption, and female strength, and it is laden with sensual imagery.

Jennifer Jewell brings a newness to her adaptation that keeps contemporary audiences engaged. With imaginative use of her minimal props, Jewell creates powerful images on stage. The physical theatre of the piece is varied and intriguing; there are times when her movement seems to border on dance. However, there are also times when the darker parts of this poem are not quite communicated. Her embodiment of the goblins lacks the sinister performance that Rossetti’s creatures need to make their full, unsettling impact, and the music which sound tracks the play occasionally jars.

The use of lighting throughout the show has varied success. During the climax of the plot, when the heroic Lizzie shows bravery and defiance against the goblins, it is used to its full potential, intensifying the violence of the scene. However, for some of the play the brightness in the venue serves to dampen the tension of the plot.

Jewell’s acting is impressive. She moves from character to character with slick ability. When she moves from the initially innocent Lizzie to the sexually charged scene in which she succumbs to the goblins, she captures the dark sensuality that the poem is full of. Her portrayal of Laura’s decay is also convincing, using physical theatre again to give an emotive performance.

The strength of this play lies in its focus on the power of sisterhood. Jewell’s interpretation of the play is one that shows resistance and strength. It is an engaging piece of storytelling in which the traditional meets the new.                        .

Goblin Market is played at Greenside at Royal Terrace until August 26. For more information go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/christina-rossetti-s-goblin-market