Beginners – The Unicorn Theatre, London

Writer & Director: Tim Crouch

Reviewer: Hannah Powell

Tim Crouch’s Beginners is single handily one of the most well written and emotive pieces of children’s theatre this reviewer has ever had the pleasure to watch. Giant flowers and mountain icicles, an adult dressed as a flying insect hanging from the ceiling, and a dog that quotes Shakespeare in a way that only a dog could, what more could you possibly ask for? It is a colourful display of children’s imaginations with a very simple message: Adults and children need to start talking to each other.

Four children left to their own devices stuck inside at a holiday camp while their parents walk off to the pub. Except these children aren’t children at all, they’re played by fully grown adults. Nigel (Neil D’Souza), Bart (Rob Das), Joy (Jacqui Dubois), Lucy (Pandora Colin), and Sandy the dog (Amalia Vitale) take us through the happenings of children when they’re parents aren’t around. Most importantly, they showcase the knowledge that children surprisingly already possess about difficult subjects such as death and cancer, and how they come to their own understandings and conclusions themselves. As the adults begin to switch out for their incredibly talented child counterparts, a motif emerges for the adults of the audience; your children are growing up faster than you can imagine.

Chloe Lamford (straight off the back of Jubilee success) alongside Camilla Clarke, strike with a set design which perfectly encapsulates both the cramped space of their holiday bedroom and the vastness of their imaginative play world. What is originally a simple set of fours beds positioned in a square is transformed into a forest of flowers, as the children put on a play for the only adult who seemingly cares enough to watch.

Crouch’s plays are written so cleverly in a way to not only entertain younger audience members but also keep the adults present engaged as well. There are messages for both adults and children alike and the laughter never appears to stop. It’s incredibly refreshing to sit in an audience with children present, what with them not being yet susceptible to “theatre etiquette”. Most entertaining when they let out funny little comments on the happenings on stage.

Overall, Beginners is a piece of theatre which could easily and happily warrant a second viewing and would encourage anyone to go and see it even if you don’t have someone under the age of ten to go with, though it might provide slightly more entertainment if you do.

Runs until 15 April 2018 | Image: Hugo Glendinning

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A Strong Message

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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