Director: Titania Krimpas
Reviewer: Ben Miller-Jarvest
The Girl and the Giraffe is Flood of Ink’s charming production for children aged 3-6. It is about a girl who, while playing the garden, discovers a giraffe living in next door’s garden. Despite her best efforts, the giraffe is unwilling to come and play with her, even hanging ‘Do not disturb’ and ‘Keep out’ signs on the fence between them. Gradually, however, with the advice of Grandma Owl, Girl manages to coax Giraffe out of his glumness, and together the two bake a cake, stargaze and go on an adventure to find blackberries.
Amber-Rose May brings huge amounts of energy to the role of the girl, and remains engaging and entertaining throughout, though it is also amusing that, due to her tall, slight build, there is virtually no height difference between her and the giraffe puppet. Said puppet, as well as the long stick with owl face and flapping silk-scarf for wings that make up Grandma Owl, is wielded with great skill by Laurence Alliston-Greiner. In particular, he conveys beautifully Giraffe’s initial hesitant interaction with Girl.
The work of designer Amy Yardley and director Titania Krimpas is good, the former creating a set of innumerable odds and ends, and the latter using these objects within the show as imaginatively as a child playing. Indeed, although it is a simple story, one or two very clever directorial touches emerging, such as an extremely inventive use of props, most notably fashioning a cake out of two disc-shaped cream cushions with a purple silk-scarf in between to look like jam. The puppets themselves are simple but highly effective, partly due to the skill of Alliston-Greiner, whose puppeteering transforms a paper-mache face on a stick and a length of orange cloth into an endearing and affecting character.
The Girl and the Giraffe also makes an admirable attempt to tackle mental health issues in a manner suitable to its very young audience, gently showing how Girl needs to be patient with Giraffe and still be kind to him, although at first he appears unsocial.
At a running time of 45 minutes, The Girl and the Giraffe is just long enough for the audience to become properly immersed, keeping the attention of both younger and adult audience members. It is well paced, well performed and if the enthusiastic clapping of all the little people sitting in the audience this afternoon is any indication, likely to delight any child who sees it.
Runs until 14 February 2017, then continues to tour | Image: Contributed