Spoonface Steinberg

Previewed 4 January 2000, Opened 5 Janaury 2000, Closed 22 January 2000 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London

Marcello Magni's stage production of Lee Hall's play Spoonface Steinberg in London starring Kathryn Hunter

A heart-warming, funny and moving story about life, death and faith, told from the view of a young autisitic girl.

The award-winning Spoonface Steinberg received unprecedented public acclaim following its radio broadcast in 1997, and has now been adapted by the author for the stage - developed in workshops at the Royal National Theatre Studio, in collaboartion with Kathryn Hunter, Annie Castledine and Marcello Magni.

Directed by Marcello Magni and co-directed by Annie Castledine with designs by Liz Cooke and lighting by Tina McHugh. This production comes to London's West End following a run at the Sheffield Crucible Studio Theatre in December 1999.

"Spoonface, the child so nicknamed at birth because of her moon-shaped head, is played by Kathryn Hunter. Hunter is small and brittle, her face dark and oval beneath a purple woolly hat. It's a good few decades since she was seven. Still, the suspension of disbelief is immediate. When she moves around Liz Cooke's giant, almost concave, bedroom set, she is fragile and adrift, like a baggy-pyjama'd doll sent out, ill-equipped, on a space- walk. Hunter's concentration during the 70-minute performance is immense... Lee Hall's writing is a blend of untouched innocence and incisive gravitas. When Spoonface recycles information drip-fed to her by adults, its partiality is exposed... Her personal observations and eavesdroppings are non-sequiturs, often comic in their triviality. Serious and routine memories come tumbling out with equal emphasis. But in the disorder, there's a heart-rending, quiet sagacity." The Independent on Sunday

"An award-winner on radio, Lee Hall's Spoonface Steinberg is a monologue about love, faith and courage from an eight-year-old autistic child facing an early death from cancer. Not exactly the premise for a barrel of laughs, but the problem with Marcello Magni's stage production is that, despite a compelling performance by the pint-sized actress Kathryn Hunter, what should be a three-handkerchief experience rarely touches the heart." The News of the World

"This is a poem of pain and beauty. Spoonface Steinberg is a little girl in the north of England who is called that because she was born looking odd, with a funny round face, she says, like a spoon. She may or may not have been dropped on her head, too; she doesn't know, but she thinks not, she thinks she was just born wrong. In fact, she is autistic. Death comes to Spoonface through stories. Dr Bernstein, who examines her, had a mother who was a camp survivor and who saw her own mother, a famous opera singer, being murdered by guards. Children, too, were being taken to a place for a wash, but they knew it was to be gassed because they knew that the smoke from the chimneys came from dead people being burnt. Dr Bernstein is examining Spoonface because she has cancer... Kathryn Hunter plays her with the kind of simplicity that can only come from the greatest sensitivity and refinement. Her movements are slightly angular, tentative and yet determined, looking both childlike and ancient. She makes you think of those children Spoonface heard about from Dr Bernstein, who drew butterflies on the wall as they waited for the gas to pour in. That is a kind of salvation; and that is the lesson of this hard, sad, beautiful play." The Sunday Times

Spoonface Steinberg in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 4 January 2000, opened on 5 Janaury 2000 and closed on 22 January 2000