By Flossie Waite
China Plate present Rockpool by Inspector Sands
Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford
2.30pm, 27th May 2014
Rock Pool is Beckett for babes, if Vladimir was trying to eat Estragon. Crab and Prawn are washed by a huge wave out of the sea and into a rock pool. “What do we do now?” says Crab. “We wait,” says Prawn.
Waiting for a wave to take them home becomes an increasingly desperate endeavour as the sun turns the pool into a puddle and Prawn into barbecued shrimp. Their friendship gets off to a rocky start – Crab takes a knife and fork to Prawn’s knee, for instance – but with a shared hatred of celery and an enforced co-habitation, the two gradually learn to like, and help, each other. The production is very funny; aside from all the fish puns (Prawn is reading The Prawn Identity), there is slapstick comedy, and even some good old toilet humour – Crab farts actual bubbles! However, the balance wasn’t quite struck between this high-energy stuff and the quieter moments: the slow songs such as Prawn’s lullaby were intended as engaging and gentle, but the right atmosphere hadn’t been achieved.
Playing a crustacean and shrimp is arguably a tough gig, but Giulia Innocenti (Crab) and Lucinka Eisler (Prawn) create entertaining, and strangely credible, personas through expert movement and facial expressions. In fact, together the double act is Laurel and Hardy-esque, and the most successful moments are achieved through their physicality. Rockpool could work well – perhaps better – without any dialogue at all, particularly for a young age group that begins at 3.
Like a hermit crab, Rock Pool is a self-contained production that can make different spaces and environments a home – excellent news for families up and down the country. With a splashy rock’n’rollpool ending, let’s just say you’ll take a bit of the sea away with you…