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Two Plays    by David Almond order for
Two Plays
by David Almond
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The book includes two plays - Almond's first for young people, Wild Girl, Wild Boy, and his stage version of Skellig. The former was first performed at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London in 2001. David Almond was influenced by thoughts rooted in his childhood digging in the earth, and the 'endless lovely singing of the larks'. The author tells us that his dad died when he was young, but Elaine's story is about life, not death, and the transcending of pain from loss.

Elaine Grew is a brave and troubled young girl, whose life has been in turmoil since her Dad's death. Elaine continually fights with her mother. Previous schoolmate friends now taunt her, and she increasingly stays away from school. Elaine spends more and more time 'in the wilderness of her dad's old allotment'. She crawls 'like a lizard' and 'slithers like a snake', working spells and digging for magic seeds. 'And who is this wild boy, who watches her, and begins to move toward her?'

The play opens with Elaine in her bedroom, attempting to write about 'Wild Boy' a.k.a. Skoosh - he was there and now he's gone. She plays with a seedhead in her hand; it was a present from her Dad, who danced with her and gave her raspberries to eat - and now he's gone. 'Me Dad was six months dead. Me lovely dad.' The play moves between past and present, showing happy days with Dad and Elaine in the allotment, 'Place of dreams and magic'. Eventually, Elaine and Mum tromp through the allotment together, and Wild Boy is there.

Almond's ethereal Skellig is transformed into a dramatization in two acts, first performed in 2003 at the Young Vic, London. It stars Michael, who finds a derelict in the garage of a property his parents are renovating. Human? Beast? Michael's new baby sister arrives but remains at the hospital, seriously ill. Winged Skellig, a mysterious 'man-owl-angel', lies still in the abandoned garage. Michael nurses Skellig back to health with help from his new friend Mina, family tragedy waiting in the background. The haunting story is played out addressing connections between all things - life, death, love and friendship.

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