Although The Red Bike is a largely non-verbal performance, there’s no fear that children will fail to understand the plot. With a cast incredibly skilled in mime and slapstick, some gorgeous shadow puppetry, and a clear line of narration, the show is easy to follow, despite the lack of dialogue.
YurtaKids! The Red Bike is the story of a family who works stuffing small prizes into plastic toy eggs. The story is narrated by the as-yet-unborn daughter of the family, Marta. In return for stuffing the eggs, the family is paid five coins, which are immediately placed in a tin to pay for rent.
The whole of this operation is run by Mr Moneybags, a shadow puppet in a tall stovepipe hat with long fingers. Mr Moneybags owns not only the family’s house and the toy egg company, he has also claimed the stars and moon, and charges anyone looking up at the sky a fine. Those who cannot pay the fine, or who cannot pay their rent, must sacrifice their shoes. People without shoes, Marta tells us, are the poorest of the poor. The show follows the family’s efforts to reclaim the father’s shoes after they are taken when he dares to use one coin from the rent to buy a small red bicycle for his son Pino’s birthday.
The show was beautifully performed, all of the actors having consummate skill, and the shadow puppetry, set against a backdrop of a star-filled, moonlight sky, was breathtaking. The story itself was also quite charming, if lacking in political subtlety. The only worry for parents might be the possibility that their children will become bored, as the show can occasionally drag. However, the comical antics of the actors, and the suspense of the plot seemed enough to keep most children entertained. Even if there are occasional moments where the pace slows, such a touching and beautifully executed play is still well worth seeing.