Uncommon Productions Staffordshire should be commended for their bravery in presenting their debut effort at the Edinburgh Fringe. A devised, interactive story-telling piece based on a short story written by a child would be a tough act for professionals to pull off, never mind enthusiastic sixth-formers. With that in mind, Maia and the Sock Monster is a bit of a frantic muddle at times but does succeed in its goal to entertain younger children.
Maia and the Sock Monster is a bit of a frantic muddle at times but does succeed in its goal to entertain younger children.
The story revolves around a young girl called Maia, who is frustrated at the disappearance of her socks and goes to her Granny to ask why she keeps finding purple patches in their place. The answer, says Granny, is the dreaded Sock Monster! When all the socks in the world are stolen, they set off to defeat this terrible villain.
Attempts have clearly been made to keep the narrative as simple as possible, to accommodate their young target audience. Unfortunately, things may have been streamlined too much. At one point, Maia engages in some basic ballet after going to sleep and I assume she is from then on dreaming. As she never seems to wake up, is the entire play a dream? Such questions are perhaps too existential to demand of Children’s Theatre, but the resulting scenes do feel a bit hashed together. Confusion was only enhanced by the fact that, though the cast used the space very well physically, they were not quite so adept at projecting their voices within it. I was having some difficulty hearing lines from the front row.
Their desire, however, for children to come up and help them out during the performance turns out to be well-judged. The children happily join them in the centre of the room in the search for the necessary props to proceed with the show. This sort of audience interaction is the main strength of the production and one that perhaps the company should seek to specialise more in. With wide smiles on their faces, the children were clearly enjoying themselves. However, Less successful audience interaction came in the form of the ‘Granny Rap’ and attempts to sing-along. At one point, we’re directed to take off our shoes and socks in advance of a song about wiggling your toes, but it comes to nothing and most sheepishly put their shoes back on once the song is over. That said, one audience member gains bonus points for suggesting the Sock Monster call himself ‘Sockrates’ when he asks for a new name.
‘Maia and the Sock Monster’ is an enthusiastically performed piece and will certainly entertain the target audience. The company need to tighten their devising process however, aiming to create a more cohesive piece rather than a series of amusing moments and perhaps need to sacrifice some elements whilst editing to create a stronger overall production.