The Ten Magic Bridges: History

The Ten Magic Bridges was Alan Ayckbourn's first multi-part play for children. Written for an audience of three to eight year olds, each chapter is a short adventure which ends on a cliff-hanger (arguably this is Alan re-inventing the Saturday morning cinema serials he loved in his youth for a modern generation!).

The fantasy adventure has familiar elements running through every chapter, a song and interaction with the audience. It ran for 10 consecutive Saturday mornings during the 2003 summer season when first produced in Scarborough in the end-stage McCarthy auditorium at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
The Ten Magic Bridges has not been published, but is available for production.

The Ten Magic Bridges: Synopsis by Alan Ayckbourn

The narrator, Princess Elysia, tells the story of how, as a very small child, she once disobeyed her parents and wandered away from the safety of the Castle where she lived happily. She became lost and needs our help to find her way home.
There are ten Magic Bridges which she needs to cross to reach the Castle. Each week, guided by the children, she arrives at a different Magic Bridge where she meets a different creature (puppets) who demand she and the children solve a series of riddles or puzzles before allowing her to cross.
The Princess is not very good at this and needs all the help she can get. In addition, because the Bridges are magic, the narrator can unexpectedly be 'changed' whenever she crosses them. This happens several times - but by the tenth and final Magic Bridge the original Princess will be restored to her normal self.
On her lap throughout sits Clever Cat (glove puppet) who sleeps most of the time but can (in emergencies) be woken up by the audience and can solve, by whispering in the princess' ear, the secret solution to a problem. (Note: We will need duplicates for this puppet). Also for one episode it changes into a dog.
There is also a talking bird (flown puppet) who flies in occasionally and helps in a sort of way. This appears each week and serves chiefly to assist in the story-so-far section. For one Bridge, the Bird's family - wife and 5 children - appear in a tree.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.