An Evening of Wonder – Delving into Piers Torday’s ‘Box of Delights’ at Wiltons Music Hall

With Christmas drawing ever nearer, a plethora of stage shows based around the season are hitting theatres nationwide. London currently has a wide variety of such incredible performances. But after hearing glowing reviews about the theatrical performances of John Masefield’s ‘Box of Delights’ currently showing at Wiltons Music Hall we simply had to find out more.

Based on Masefield’s book written back in 1935 ‘The Box of Delights’ is a beloved story which many will know from it’s 1980s adaptation for the BBC. Written well before Tolkein’s Middle Earth was crafted and before many other classic stories set around a world of magic, The Box of Delights tells of two duelling magicians who, after fighting for eons find themselves battling for possession of a magical box in 1930. A box which could alter time altogether, and should it fall into the wrong hands could mean the cancellation of Christmas altogether!

Only a young orphan, Kay, and his two friends can stop this threat and save the season from the villainous Abner Brown.

It has to be said Wilton’s Music Hall is a fantastic setting for the show – the Victorian venue oozes atmosphere and has been lovingly restored to it’s grand days of when variety shows took centre stage within its elegant brick walls. Upon entering, the minimalistic  shapes concealed on stage give no hint whatsoever at the sheer array of puppetry, special effects and performance which lies ahead.

Pier’s Torday has done an incredible job adapting the story to the stage. The use of space is phenomenal and via dazzling projections and beautifully crafted props and puppetry you’re thrown into a cosy Edwardian world of a Christmas of yesteryear (albeit one with magic and buttered scones).  Without giving anything away the show brings the charm of the 80s adaptation with the depth of Masefield’s original tale. Some of the effects are quite simply breathtaking and the use of the space is phenomenal.

It has to be said the cast do a stellar job – Theo Ancient is superb as Kay and Nigel Betts and Mark Extance convincing as the duelling magical foes who’ve battled through the centuries. There’s a fantastic feeling of delving into Christmases of the past especially with the many pagan aspects of the story brought to life on stage through animation, projection and puppetry.

We loved the Box of Delights. A fantastically faithful recreation of the classic story brought to life in a remarkable way in an absolutely gorgeous venue. It wouldn’t be a lie to say this has to be one of the best stage performances we’ve seen and undoubtedly should be a Christmas staple for everyone.

Make sure you get your tickets whilst you can at

Photo credits Nobby Clark.