Writer: Phil Johnson
Director: Daniel Burgess
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Children’s shows are often overlooked in Fringe Festivals, but new theatre isn’t restricted to just ‘grown up’ shows. It’s a fact that Ipswich’s Pulse Festival has embraced, with a dedicated Children’s and Young People’s day.
All-In-Productions have set out to create theatre that is accessible to children and families and in their adaptation of Phil Johnson’s The Little Blue Boat and the Secret of the Broads have created a witty, engaging and welcoming production that works for multiple ages.
That sense of engagement starts from the moment we arrive. There are no barriers here, audience members are welcome to explore the set and meet the character or even grab the ubiquitous selfie with Teddy.
Teddy isn’t your normal teddy bear however. His adventures take him on a thrilling journey through the rivers and waterways of the Norfolk Broads, chased by the naughty Pincher Pete and aided by some of the wildlife of The Broads.
It’s a fast-packed tale full of exploits, worthy of anything The Famous Five ever encountered and is told with such conviction by Teddy and his three human actors (James Ducker, Elliot Clarke and Daniel Burgess) that it’s impossible not to root for the bear in his battle with the evil Pincher.
Burgess’ direction is swift and punchy but it also recognises the need to engage with its young audience. Through swift costume change and fluid movement, there’s not a chance for the young audience to get board and the sea of rapt, engaged faces from the audience is testament to the interest being paid.
There’s been given plenty of thought into making this production as accessible as possible with sign language carefully integrated and the recognition that the core young audience need to feel safe in their theatre going adventures.
Running at just 30 minutes this is a brief journey into the world of Teddy and his adventures but the warmth and honesty in the piece looks set to see the bear sail forth on many more adventures in his Little Blue Boat.