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The Box of Delights - RSC's Festive Family Show

The Box of Delights. Photo © RSC.

The Box of Delights by Piers Torday based on the novel by John Masefield runs from Tuesday 31 October 2023 – Sunday 7 January 2024 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Directed by Justin Audibert

Press Night: Wednesday 8 November, 7pm

Chilled performance: 16 November (1.15pm)

Captioned performance: 24 November (7.15pm)


Justin Audibert - Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre and whose previous RSC shows include The Taming of the Shrew, Snow in Midsummer and The Jew of Malta - returns to the RSC to direct what promises to be a magically festive show for the whole family.

Director Justin Audibert. Photography by Seamus Ryan, © RSC.

Originally produced for Wilton’s Music Hall in 2017, Piers Torday’s reimagining of John Masefield’s much-loved children’s classic tells the story of orphaned schoolboy Kay Harker who finds himself the guardian of a small wooden box with powers beyond his wildest dreams. Caught up in a battle between two powerful magicians - Cole and Abner - Kay fights to save not just the people he loves, but also the future of Christmas itself…

Alex Cardall, Ensemble/Puppeteer in rehearsals. Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC.

The production will see Justin re-unite with RSC Associate Artist and Olivier award-winning Designer Tom Piper, who most recently designed the RSC’s production of Hamnet which is about to transfer to the Garrick Theatre in London.

Talking about The Box of Delights, Justin said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work on The Box of Delights again, this time creating a bigger, and even more spectacular production for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.

Stephen Boxer and Nia Gwynne, rehearsals. Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC.

“It’s a show that features trains, boats, planes, mythical creatures, a good and a very bad magician, and characters that magically turn into tiny versions of themselves, characters that transform into animals that fly through the air and swim in the sea – how exciting is that? We’re telling the story through the imagination of a child, so the staging promises to be a fantastic mix of the inventive and the breath-taking.

“In many ways The Box of Delights was the first fantasy story for children, and with its classic good versus evil narrative, and three young children as the heroes, you can see its influence on books like the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Character portrait of Mae Munuo, Maria Jones.Photo by Hugo Glendinning (c) RSC.

Taking on the roles of the three children in the story are Callum Balmforth as Kay Harker, and Mae Munuo as the fearless Maria Jones, both of whom make their RSC debuts, and Jack Humphrey who returns to the RSC to play the far from fearless Peter Jones.

Callum Balmforth’s theatre credits include: Sleeping Beauty (ABproduction/Ilford), The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi (Hundred Acre Productions), Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens (HalfMask/Redbridge), Wendy and Peter Pan (Leeds Playhouse/Bunkamura) and Dick Whittington and His Cat (Cambridge Arts Theatre). Earlier this year, Callum featured in the Netflix/Jada Pinkett Smith-produced docu-drama Queen Cleopatra.

Character portrait of Callum Balmforth, Kay Harker. Photo by Hugo Glendinning (c) RSC.

Mae Munuo’s theatre credits include: DNA (The New Wolsey Theatre), The Nutcracker (Bristol Old Vic), The Canterville Ghost, Gulliver’s Travels, The Bolds (Unicorn Theatre), Anansi the Spider (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), September Skies, Centre Ground, How To Become a Revolutionary (Small Truth Theatre) and I’ll Take You To Mrs Cole (Complicité, Theatre Peckham and Edinburgh Fringe Pleasance). Mae is an Associate Artist of Complicité and the New Wolsey Theatre.

Jack Humphrey’s RSC credits include: Henry VI: Rebellion, Henry VI Wars of the Roses and A Christmas Carol. Other theatre credits include: Animal Farm, Othello, Ordinary Miracle (NYT Rep) and Tom’s Midnight Garden (Theatre By The Lake, Keswick). Television credits include: Then Barbara Met Alan (Dragonfly Film and Television)

Character portrait of Richard Lynch, Abner, Callum Balmforth, Kay Harker and Mae Munuo, Maria Jones.Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC.

The full cast is: Nana Amoo-Gottfried (Joe/Ensemble); Callum Balmforth (Kay Harker); Stephen Boxer (Cole Hawkings/Ramon Lully/Grandpa); Melody Brown (Mayor/Dame Eleanor of Chasuble/Ensemble); Alex Cardall (Ensemble/Puppeteer); Tom Chapman (Rat/Puppeteer); Janet Etuk (Herne the Hunter); Nia Gwynne (Sylvia Daisy Pouncer); Jack Humphrey (Peter Jones); Tom Kanji (Charles); Richard Lynch (Abner); Annette McLaughlin (Caroline Louisa); Mae Munuo (Maria Jones); Claire Price (Sylvia Daisy Pouncer); Molly Roberts (Ellen/The Head/Ensemble); Rhiannon Skerritt (Ensemble/Puppeteer); Timothy Speyer (Bishop/Ensemble); and Rosie Wyatt (Papergirl/Duchess of Musborough/Ensemble).

For tickets contact the Box Office on 01789 331111 or visit:,


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