Little Angel’s Sebbon Street studios become the Little
Angel Recycling Centre (LARC) for this immersive, promenade show. A quest story about a plastic water bottle (named Bertie) who wants to be recycled and become a kite is framed by the audience’s arrival at, and departure from, a very worthy sounding “educational tour of our recycling plant” with audience members busy sorting rubbish. Of course that’s a quasi-spoof and, directed by Samantha Lane, the central narrative is as magical as everything else Little Angel does – although there are some serious thoughts about the environment along the way.
Bertie starts as a bottle. Then he gets a face. After a bit he has legs and then once we’re into the central story he’s a fully fledged green puppet in a world where everything is made of junk. Emma Tompkins’s designs (on which she was assisted by four Little Angel trainees: Shaun Latif-Shaikh, Esther Potter, Paless Esuk and Deanna Mathers) are delightful – a turtle made of an old citrus squeezer and a glittery sock, jelly fish formed from plain supermarket carriers and, the piece de resistance, a huge rattly octopus made from an umbrella with tentacles of plastic glasses and bottles. So much imaginative use is made of rubbish in three different rooms, with everything deftly to hand for the two performers that this must be a challenging show to stage manage so congratulations to Josephine Tremelling for fine work.
Lori Hopkins as Scoop who tells Bertie’s story and plays Bertie is vibrant and energetic, taking most of the young audience with her most of the time just by skilled use of her eyes and colourful voice. Hopkins works on this show with one of three trainees who plays the recycling plant employee – the dour foil to her childlike liveliness – and various other parts during the main story.
I saw this show with a party of 29 children and seven adults from Malorees Junior School in Kilburn who enthusiastically provided storm noses, bottling plant sound effects and rousing shouts when invited to. The fidgety boy next to me kept saying things like “There’s someone at the back moving the legs” or “Let me have a look!” when a nearby girl was given a mini thunder machine to shake. He’s clearly a young man keener on sussing mechanics than imaginative suspension of disbelief – but theatre’s a broad church which can be engaged with and enjoyed at all sorts of levels.