Radlett Centre, Radlett
11.30am, 14 April 2015
Little Angel Theatre’s production is a gorgeous little gem of visual theatre to absolutely enthral children – perfect for that second week of the Easter holidays when they really need to be back at school – or for any time really.
In a world of DVDs, tablet screens and gimmicks, it needs no words, just top class puppetry and beautiful music to captivate youngsters and teach them an environmental message too.
Based on the book by Frann Preston-Gannon, it tells the thought-provoking story of a polar bear who searches for a new home when the ice starts melting. On his journey he meets new friends, a panda, a monkey and an elephant who have also been displaced by events in a modern world.
The monkey’s trees are cut down, cities are encroaching on the panda’s natural habitats and elephants are being hunted – all of which is depicted with clever design including shadow puppetry, back projection and different sizes of puppets and props to give the illusion of travel and make the message accessible for youngsters.
The tale is told with expressive puppets brought to life by clever puppeteers Aaron Glass and Rachel Leonard, who are totally visible yet whose presence you soon forget – a sign of a true skill.
And while the action takes place in a small space, the design helps to give the feel of a big journey and as each of the new friends climbs in the boat, you feel a sense of all being in it together.
Lyrical music, the fascinating way the puppets moved and the seamless transitions between scenes were kind of mesmerising as well. The kids may have been transfixed but I also found it quite meditative, a wonderfully relaxing three quarters of an hour to take you away from the hustle and bustle of outside.
The only words used were at end when we get a message from the now extinct dodo – and as the only spoken words in 40 minutes they have impact.
I could see V was enthralled at the front as she loves both puppets and animals and I wondered how much of the message she would get. On the way home, totally unprompted, she gave me a lesson how important it is to save the planet. She got it completely. A great show!
I learnt that we must look after our planet more. If we destroy animals homes they will die. If animals get sick and die on their own we can handle that. I liked the little fish and the way they did the boats in different sizes.
Run time: About 45 minutes of loveliness
Age range: 3+ – children can sit round the edge of the performing space with adults on chairs behind. Of course, the youngsters can sit with their parents if the prefer and I would suggest that if your children won’t settle at the front then you tell them to do just that – or go an sit with them so they don’t keep running back to you to get “snacks”. Grrrr.
Other stuff: Small free sheets are left on the chairs with details of the production and the performers – just what you need!
For tour details see the Little Angel Theatre website.