Creators and Directors: Rachael Canning and Hannah Mulder
Reviewer: Nicole Craft
After the death of her mother, a young girl (Amy Blair), whose name we will never discover, finds herself going to live with her Grandma (Rosy Fordham). Not even remotely ready to grieve, let alone to get used to the sights and sounds of living in an old fashioned home in a busy city, she retreats to her new room and discovers a kite; or rather the kite discovers her.
It soon becomes apparent that all is not quite as it seems as the kite works its magic and whisks the girl off on an adventure over the roofs and streets of London – with Grandma soon in hot pursuit of her presumed missing Granddaughter. But will Grandma be able to work some magic of her own to ensure the two can be reunited?
If the efforts aren’t enough to engross us at this stage – the graceful swallow-like dives and swoops of the kite only just more stunning than the innocent, wide-eyed expressions of wonder from Blair as she watches it – then the puppets arrive just in time to seal the deal completely. Somewhat eerily, yet beautifully, mirroring the Girl and Grandma in features and outfit (and kite), and controlled by various combinations of the ensemble, the puppets provide a perspective of the sky-high events that unfold in a way that no amount of special effects could compare to. Realistic, head-to-toe, movements working in harmony with intricate sound and lighting effects truly bring them to life with stunning results.
Jack Dorning and Elisa de Grey are at the helm of most of the set movements and transform the scene from Grandma’s kitchen to everything from Big Ben to a tightly-packed underground train. This might not appear to be a huge undertaking on the surface but the subtlety of their timing – continuously complementing both the main and finer actions of Blair and Fordham, who do equally as well to keep perfect pace – is outstanding and transforms the otherwise routine tasks into fluid, storytelling motions that weave themselves into the piece.
To evoke such emotion without a single spoken word is a skill many-a-company could, and arguably should, learn from The Wrong Crowd. This afternoon’s audience is varied in age but each and every one of us, young and old alike, is completely captivated throughout and the eagerness of those staying to meet the puppets at the end speaks volumes. Skilfully simple yet astoundingly intricate, Kite aims high then flies higher. A truly magical production that you won’t want to miss.
Runs Until 19 February 2019 and on tour | Image: Matt Austin