Reviewer: Matthew Forrest
House of Stray Cats is a theatre production company based in London which specialises in puppetry and physical theatre. They aim to create an immersive and interactive experience for children of all ages to enjoy. They bring their latest offering The Dream Factory to The Lowry’s studio theatre.
Telling the story of a young girl named Sophie and her struggle with insomnia, we are taken on a magical journey to the Dream Factory. Here Sophie learns how dreams are made, complete with full on ‘raspberry’ noises, and we meet a host of colourful creatures such as Cleo, the Spider, who is boss at the dream factory, a mischievous elephant who sprays some of the audience and a school of beautifully coloured fish, before Sophie shares a tender moment with her Mum and drifts back to sleep.
This is a magical, spellbinding production that captivated the younger members of our audience and managed to hold their attention throughout. The puppets look amazing – full of life and bright colours, controlled expertly by our three puppeteers, Nicole Black, Katriona Brown, Maia Kirkman-Richards, who also act as our guides through the Dream Factory. They invite audience members both young and old to participate, one adult amusingly being asked to comply with the factory’s strict health and safety laws when disposing of nightmares.
The music and compositions by Paul Mosley were soft and enchanting, evoking the dream world we were inhabiting, whilst the puppet and staging design by Kirkman-Richards are both magical and captivating. The production wasn’t without its flaws: some of the narrative is slightly confusing. Was this purely a story about a child being unable to sleep or was there something more to it about children and the loss of a parent? In addition, the running time could be cut down by 5 minutes to ensure the younger audience members get the most from their experience.
This is an enchanting production filled with wonder and delight that will enthrall and entertain audiences of all ages and is well worth a watch.
Reviewed on the 5th November 2017 | Image: contributed