Review written by Flossie Waite
Half Moon Theatre
For ages 3-7
Children can be the harshest critics: if they’re bored, that’s it. From the fairly impolite: a character on stage asking the audience a question, only to be answered with a resounding burp into the silence; to the absolutely ill-mannered: wandering off completely to play a game of stuck-in-the mud around the auditorium. It is much harder to produce work for young people than adults, which makes Up, Up and Away all the more remarkable. Created and performed by a group of students as part of Half Moon Theatre’s longstanding relationship with Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, it is a production that suggests years of experience.
Spying adventures out of his window, Sky is taken into space on a rocket, flies on a dragon’s back, and fights pirates, always following his father who is just out of reach. This imaginative quest is complemented by lovely scenes between his parents – looking out, he catches them mucking about and chasing each other around the garden. Though the set and props are initially pale and papery, this is a vibrant production that is packed with colour by the end.
Chris Elwell’s expert attention draws out extremely accomplished performances from the multi-talented cast. Scored with original songs, the instruments are also used inventively as sound effects – American accents spoken into the bell of a saxophone sound surprisingly like Ground Control contacting astronauts. The cast switch between playing the music and performing multiple roles: a former alien switching to acrobatic scales on the clarinet, a bass player doubling as a moody gnome.
With the instruments, a cast of 12 constantly on stage, as well as the set and props, it did sometimes feel a bit cramped, and ultimately there was one adventure too far in terms of the show’s length. What it lacked in space, however, it more than made up for in energy – by the end, it felt like each theatre ticket had become an invitation to the very best party.
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