ChildrensNorth East & YorkshireReview

One More Sleep – Gala Theatre, Durham

Writer: Susan Mulholland

Director: Kate Sorahan-Turner

Music: Katie Doherty

Reviewer: Jonathan Cash

 

Roo is a little girl who wants to be an explorer. She is too excited to sleep because of the promise of snow overnight. Her dad is a gentle, risk-averse soul who is frightened by any possible dangers the snow might bring. When the storm comes and her toy lamb, Mr Pickle, disappears out of the window, Roo sets off into the storm to find him. The story shifts from her bright, friendly bedroom to a glistening, wintry woodland and as the snow falls on the stage, her adventure begins.

She meets an intrepid arctic tern and a slightly shady penguin, helping each of them out and rescuing Mr Pickle before becoming lost in the snow herself. This being a play for small children, it is not too much of a spoiler to say that all ends well. Roo’s dad shows his courage and the two end up having fun together.

Both actors give appealing performances. Roo is played by Charlotte Ryder as a bright and plucky youngster, with just the right touch of vulnerability. All the other characters are played by Stanley Hodgson. He shifts character as easily as he makes the minimal but effective costume changes. I particularly liked the witty simplicity of the penguin costume. The songs by Katie Doherty are catchy and appropriate, joyfully punctuating the action.

The captivating set designs by Katy Gardener make the most of what can be a difficult playing space and the lighting is effective and inconspicuous. The running time of 45 minutes feels just right; long enough to tell the story but short enough to keep the children on board to the end.

Both the writer Susan Mulholland, and the Director Kate Sorahan-Turner are very experienced in working with children and producing theatre for them. This is evident from the way the play engaged and delighted its very young audience. The show is also interactive and the audience were invited to get involved with building a snow-lamb and even in a snowball fight. As I left, the children were all wandering round the playing area, happily picking up snowballs and reluctant to see the experience end.

One of the Gala staff said to me that everyone needs theatre and it is important to engage a young audience. I feel sure these children will have very happy and lasting memories of what may well be their first ever theatre. One More Sleep is a twinkling festive delight for the little ones, with enough charm and interest to keep the adults happy.

Runs until 29 December | Image: Lee Dobson

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. 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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