By Flossie Waite
Half Moon Theatre
A Floods of Ink Production
Touring from Jan 2015
It is hard to believe that this is in the first handful of shows from emerging children’s theatre company Floods of Ink, so accomplished and polished is Up in the Attic.
Amanda Masceranas’ set is covered in quilts and carpets, scarves and shawls; suitcases and boxes everywhere, streams of bunting overhead, colour exploding – and unmistakably full of secrets to be discovered. It isn’t quite clear that this is an attic, or why the three children are in it, or what the relationship between them is, but it hardly matters. This is a cosy environment, a habitat for imagination, and allows a lovely piece of storytelling to slip between fantasy and reality as much as the audience wishes it to.
As Ima (Natalie Piper), Frankie (Amber-Rose May) and Freddy (Mark Newnham) play with the objects they find, they stumble across a story: when the moon disappears just as Ima is going to sleep, she knows she must try to find it. On her journey she meets four animals, and the puppets for these are inspired – a crab made of spoons, a goose with a squeeze horn for a head. Each sings a song – the goose has been set loose from its flock, we find out; the wolf really wants to howl again, but can’t without the moon. But it is a whaling whale voiced by Newnham that steals the show with a bluesy rendition of (you guessed it) whale song.
The production seems especially slick as it slides up- and down- tempo. Brash humour is tempered by quieter observation; maybe the moon hasn’t been captured, or got lost, suggests the whale, “it’s probably tired, or busy, or sad about something.” The moon is another piece of stunning puppetry: with Amber-Rose May, a paper lantern seems so gentle and genuinely mournful.
Up in the Attic makes the tricky job of devising a creative and engaging production for young people look easy, taking simple ideas and turning them into something extraordinary. One such idea: when Ima is lost in the dark woods, she holds onto the hands of children in the audience who guide her way – a fitting image for a play about a girl being scared of the dark, finding her way to the light.
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