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Let’s Fly (Susan Elkin reviews)

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A co-production by Little Angel Theatre & Goblin. Directed by Samantha Lane.
performance date: 24 Sep 2016
venue: Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, London N1 2DN

Shakera Louise Ahad presents a little girl who wants to fly. She tries various strategies which don’t work before eventually hitching a ride – in the form of a series of lookalike stick puppets – on a bunch of balloons. She then visits the sea, the jungle, the mountains and the moon. The piece is almost wordless, very light on narrative and same-ily strong on cries of “wahoo” behind recorded music by Mary Erskine and Will Dollard.

Ahad is a charismatic performer and convincingly childlike but the material she is working with here is disappointingly thin. Even making use of the whole auditorium, blowing bubbles over the audience and tossing a balloon at the children fail to make this show immersive. Alison Alexander’s sets, however, are colourful and imaginative although it wasn’t enough to hold young audience attention at the performance I saw which seemed quite lengthy even at 40 minutes.

I suppose it was a deliberate decision to make the puppets Afro-Caribbean with dark brown skin and very curly hair. It means, that apart from being dressed in the same way, they don’t look remotely like Assad and it feels like a clunkingly political correct, rather confusing (if you’re two years old), idea. And why do the puppets have a badger-like facial white streak as if they’ve been eating yoghurt? The target age range is another issue. This show is billed for ages 2-6 but it is clearly much more suitable for very youngest rather than for children in school year 1 or 2. Anyone, though, would enjoy the scuttling red crab puppet and the energetic parrot.

I am very fond of Little Angel Theatre. It’s a magical venue where, in the past I have seen some terrific work. Let’s Fly is, I’m afraid, not as strong as many previous shows despite being the first to be directed by Little Angel’s new artistic director, Samantha Lane.

First published by Sardines http://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/reviews/review.php?REVIEW-West%20End%20&%20Fringe-Let%27s%20Fly&reviewsID=2567

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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