The Emperor's Threads

Date and Venue 24 February 2007 @ 2 pm | Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Reviewer Heidi Hoff

It was a packed house at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to see the much hyped Axis Theatre production of The Emperor’s New Threads, an adapted version of the popular children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Emperor, who has a penchant for flashy clothing, is worried that he will not have a new outfit to wear at an upcoming royal procession for his subjects. He is tricked by two pseudo weavers who convince him that they can create the most elaborate outfit out of the finest cloth. The catch is that only those who are "stupid and not good at their jobs” cannot see the cloth, which doesn’t exist in the first place.

A series of palace staff go to the loom room to view the cloth and all come away with the most awesome descriptions. Even the Emperor falls for the gimmick and end up in the procession in his, well, you can guess. It is a child in the form of a puppet that sees through all the nonsense and states, “It’s not what you wear, but who you are inside.”

A mere three (hugely talented!) performers share a multitude of roles. Melody Anderson’s acclaimed masks transition the actors from one role to the next and are cleverly crafted to hide only half the actors’ faces yet change their personalities completely. Melody, along with playwright and actor Peter Anderson, keep this production moving along at an appropriate pace for children and adults, too.

© 2007 Heidi Hoff