The simple pleasure of play is at the heart of Brooke Laing’s enchanting storytelling. Prepare for an elaborate hour of adventure within an enchanted forest performed by your own child, as they travel to undo the mischievous work of a shoe-stealing witch.
The fun came predominantly from the joy that the audience of parents gleaned from witnessing their little ones run around the stage.
A warning - this is one children’s show where attendance without a minor might not make for such an enjoyable experience. The fun came predominantly from the joy that the audience of parents gleaned from witnessing their little ones run around the stage. This is a charming world of make-believe, a tale that entertains and provokes a fabulous sense of unity, bringing strangers together to form a story all of their own. Characters from all walks of life make an appearance. We give Ariel legs, help out Cinderella, a Shoemaker and even Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Laing ultimately depends on the receptiveness of her audience. This is an immersive piece and if the children don’t want to play, there isn’t one to perform. Despite a few reluctant participants who linger away from this stranger at the very start, rather understandably, this initial nervousness of being parted from parents soon evaporates in the excitement of Laing’s work, as she guides with simple but inventive instructions. ‘Tickle the moon!’ she cries, and we do.
As a doting parent, the most entertainment you’ll get is out of watching your child enjoy themselves, and this interactive experience allows children to star in their very own show, albeit with a few helping hands along the way. The reactions range from besotted to completely distracted and many oscillate between these two extremes throughout, wandering on and off stage. The greatness of this production is that Laing lets them. It’s their time. The show is about the children and she doesn’t let us forget it for a second.
However the structure of the production, although clearly catered to limited attention spans, does lack a clear narrative and I do feel the sequence of scenarios, although charming in their own way, could have excelled within a tighter framework. Some technical hiccups result in mismatched timings, but the clever use of sound recordings adds a fervent layer of realism to the actions of the children. One little boy is so enchanted he begins to wander off to converse with the speakers instead, so intriguing is the sound of real horses. Isn’t galloping around a room made so much better when you can hear the sound of the horses hooves?
A magical immersive experience for any eager child. Laing’s techniques are by no means revolutionary, but they’re fun. This is a sweet production brimming with great ideas; it just feels like some of them need a little more careful development which I’m sure they’ll receive in time. If you’re stuck with an hour or two to kill and need to entertain a small one, head to this inventive storyteller and prepare to be charmed.