Though there are plenty of shows designed for children at the Fringe, finding shows aimed at the youngest can always be tricky. Babies and toddlers can be a difficult audience to cater for. This makes it all the more impressive that Starcatchers have pulled this off not only with apparent ease but with sheer style.
Hup is completely recommendable without any reservation to any parent with any young children.
Seated on the floor within the set, we follow the story of a mischievous raccoon, fascinated by the pair of violinists and a cellist who are sitting nearby. With no dialogue, we watch her explore the space and entice the musicians to embrace their inner raccoon by wearing some raccoon clothing. Hannah Venet plays the raccoon with a deft touch. Children are allowed to explore the set during the show and Venet integrates them seamlessly into what can only be described as her dance. She reacts to toddlers by her feet, improvises to move past them if they’re in the way and yet is so natural in doing this that the spell of the show is never broken. Karen Tennent should be proud of her theatre design which accompanies this, managing to make a set that feels open, welcome and comfortable, combining a demarcated performance area with the ability for the toddlers to explore as they wish.
Abigail Sinar’s original score is wonderful. It masterfully weaves everything together and can be appreciated by people of all ages. One toddler enthusiastically clapped her hands together at the end of each piece. She, along with her fellow musicians Andrew Huggan and Katrina Lee, displayed their notable musical talent alongside well-developed theatrical ability. After all, how many cellists do you know who can keep on playing whilst being turned into a raccoon? The young children seemed very taken with the show as a whole, enjoying the opportunity to roam, play and listen. It’s hard to judge the mood of a toddler and occasionally some wandered off a little too far from the set, but there were no tantrums, no accidents and plenty of smiling faces.
Modern theatre is often slanted in such an unsympathetic way as to make parents with very young children feel like a nuisance if they make the slightest bit of noise during a show. With this in mind, it is so good to have a company like Starcatchers catering for an audience that most companies are not brave enough to tackle. Hup is completely recommendable without any reservation to any parent with any young children.