Elle Wootton sounds remarkably coherent for someone who has lived in a fantasy world of shadows for seven years.

Wootton plays the role of Maggie in Trick of the Light Theatre's The Road that Wasn't There coming to the Royal Wanganui Opera house this week.

She has played the character created by Ralph McCubbin Howell since 2012 when the play was performed to favourable reviews at the Edinburgh Festival.

"With a few breaks, I have been travelling and performing the play ever since and I still enjoy it.


"I love seeing how audiences in different places respond to the play and this will be our first meeting with a Whanganui audience."

The Road that Wasn't There has had many successful national and international tours including a return to Edinburgh in 2017.

With a cast and crew of only five people and a few puppets, The Road that Wasn't There begins when Gabriel (Paul Waggot) travels home to St Bathans, Otago, after learning that Maggie (Wootton), his elderly mum who's always been a little odd, is acting even more peculiarly than usual.

He returns and finds Maggie ready to expose the ghosts of her past and share a sinister secret with him.

The play has won a number of national and international awards and the story has been compared to the writings of Margaret Mahy and the fabulous fiction of English author Neil Gaiman.

"As a child, Maggie travelled down a paper road [one that was mapped but never constructed] and things that happened in that fictional world had frighteningly real consequences for her."

Writer McCubbin Howell joins Wootton and Waggot to play a few other characters and all perform puppetry and shadow play directed by Hannah Smith and accompanied by sound whiz Tane Upjohn Beatson.

Children love the play says Wootton and it appeals equally to adults.


"It works on several levels and that's what I love about it and why I'm still performing it."

The play is described as a curious tale for intrepid children (aged 8+) and adventurous adults.

The Road that Wasn't There: Royal Wanganui Opera House, Thursday, May 16 at 6pm. Adults $27.75, Junior (8-15 years) $16.75. Book at ticketek or at Royal Wanganui Opera House 06 349 0513.