Gulliver's Travels

The Octagon Theatre

Until August 27

AS the summer break nears its end, there is one last trip to be enjoyed right here in Bolton.

The Octagon has spectacularly brought Gulliver's Travels to the outdoor stage, transforming Queens Park into a magical setting for Jonathan Swift's classic novel.

The theatre's cast and crew are taking audiences with them on their travels around Bolton as their town centre base undergoes a multi-million pound refurbishment ­— with the first stop being Queens Park for this wonderful family play starring an eight metre puppet.

Yes, the show-stopping marionette really is a sight to behold leaving audiences in awe, but it certainly does not overshadow the cast or the wonderful setting for this play.

The sunken garden, the glade, the lake and the amphitheatre provide the fantastically dazzling sets for this production.

We join Gulliver, played by the extraordinary versatile actor Michael Peavoy, as he transports his daughter, the joyful and bubbly Anne O'Riordon, to the land of Lilliput where we meet the Lilliputians, excellently depicted by a young company of local actors, providing the ahh factor.

What unfolds is the fear of an outsider entering a new land before becoming a hero in this satirical tale.

Those familiar with the story will know the novel works on different levels, this is evident in the play and certainly provides food for thought.

But the real success in the play lies in the utterly brilliant transformation of the park, a real testament to the fantastic imagination of the directors Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti, who make you feel as if you are with Gulliver and his daughter - who in this version both hail from Bolton-  on their adventures, not quite knowing quite what is round the corner.

There are plenty of laughs and songs ­—- and the play beautifully captures the feeling that no matter where in the world you travel, there is always something special about coming home again.

It is hard to believe this is the Octagon's first play in the park production, given Bolton's many stunning backdrops ­— and hopefully many more summer outdoor shows are planned.

The theatre has once again used its magic to deliver another heartwarming hit summer production.