Creators: Allie Cohen &Marc Mac Lochlainn
Composer: Miguel Barcelo
Directors: Allie Cohen &Marc Mac Lochlainn
Reviewer: Sarah O’Toole
Branar Children’s Theatre, in partnership with Scottish-based Starcatchers, provide a beguiling experience for both early years audiences and their parents as part of this year’s Baboró children’s theatre festival. Greeted by our two performers, Saras Feijóo and Helen Gregg, in the foyer, the audience is led into a circular yurt-style environment set up in the auditorium of the Mick Lally Theatre and sit on soft mats while Feijóo and Gregg introduces us to “hairy squishy” square objects and blue shiny triangles until a very surprising discovery of a stray velvety circle lead to a magical cave area where all kinds of unpredictable transformations take place.
This piece keeps the attention of a notoriously fickle audience throughout by building itself slowly through the introduction of all its different elements and then using them to earn satisfying yet subtly executed coups de théatre. Feijóo and Gregg strike a balance between engaging with all the rapt upturned faces in this comfortable, but quasi-mountainous environment and playing together in the mode of the classic Laurel and Hardy-esque comedy duo – good-natured Gregg is constantly the butt of mischievous Feijóo’s jokes. Miguel Barceló’s charmingly quirky soundtrack creates an atmosphere of play, then drum rolls us to moments of dramatic impact, when new shapes are discovered or combined and transformed into moments of understated clowning and puppetry, from which two new and rather adorable “performers” emerge.
The need to develop younger audiences for theatre has been recognised and is currently promoted by the Irish Arts Council. With this show, Cohen and Mac Lochlainn go far beyond the remit of teaching children about shapes to creating a very high-quality early experience of theatre-going for these young Galway citizens, setting the bar high for future theatre visits.
Runs until 23 October 2016 as part of the Baboró Festival then continues to tour | Image: Contributed