Cerrie Burnell's show The Magical Playroom is the story of Liberty Rose, a girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina like her mother. A girl who has to fight for her voice to be heard when the adults in her life insist she wears a prosthetic arm which hinders rather than helps her. A girl very much like any little boy or girl you know. Inspired by Burnell’s own childhood experiences, this is a powerful story of fighting for what you believe in from the CBeebies favourite.This original story deals with often difficult subject matter: how to deal with the emotional blackmail of parents, how to use your disability to your advantage and how to make your voice heard even when you're afraid. The show is charmingly subversive and a little defiant and Burnell speaks openly and with authority about disability and prejudice throughout the story.
The candy coloured pastel hued set of a child's bedroom makes the scene instantly relatable for the children; this could be their own bedroom. The characters in the story are well drawn and diverse and Burnell displays an impressive range of accents. She also has a magical presence on stage and her storytelling skills are gentle and beguiling. She is open and expressive and often hypnotic, creating an otherworldly and entrancing feeling in the room. However, the majority of this audience are pre-schoolers and the serious but subtle message it contains is lost on its younger members, with some stray tots flagging at the halfway mark. Due to the nature of the storytelling too, the large audience are rather hard to rouse from their hypnotic state and are quite subdued in any moments when they are prompted for a response. It would however be the perfect show for school age children who have just that little bit more experience of the world.
This show contains powerful messages for both parents and children: that children's voices should be heard; only you can decide what's best for yourself; challenge what you think is not right or just; don't be limited by anyone else and never ever give up on your dreams. A worthy story that deserves telling, but slightly lost on the younger audience it has chosen to target.