Handa’s Surprise

Review written by Flossie Waite
Presented by Little Angel Theatre
Half Moon Theatre
For ages 2-6
Touring until April 12th

Banana, guava, orange, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, avocado… These are the seven fruits Handa puts in her basket to take to her best friend Akeyo in the next village. Even the sound of the words is delicious, so it’s no wonder that seven animals can’t resist taking their pick…

Based on Eileen Browne’s picturebook, this is a production for the senses. Sitting around the performing space, the audience are transported to a bright, warm day in Kenya by Sophia Lovell Smith’s set and lighting design. Songs in both Swahili and English provide the gentle rhythm underpinning the show. Fruit is handed around to feel and smell. The show makes you hungry, and ready to move and sing – so the chance to dance and have a bite to eat makes for a fruity finish.

There’s more than one surprise, as puppets pop out of pots and peep out of baskets. Even the two performers seem astonished as piles of material or discarded objects become animals – tearing away the leaves on a sheaf of corn and adding a maraca, a bird appears!

Many picturebooks for early years are highly repetitive, a factor that can translate poorly to the stage but works particularly well here. Handa’s Surprise is a peach of a show that ends apple-y ever after…

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