My Friend Mole

Review written by Flossie Waite
Presented by Birdsnest Theatre
Polka Theatre
For ages 3-6
Touring nationally until 31st May

Mole is a boy. I can’t see him; you can’t see him – only Wilder can. He lives “sort of in a house, sort of by the stars, sort of close by, sort of far away”, though he can’t remember exactly where. It doesn’t matter – fuzzy details equal limitless possibilities in this ode to imagination.

It’s imagination which pumps through this play like the imaginary blood in Mole’s imaginary veins. Mole is deliberately imprecise (“It’s warm and cold depending on the way you look at it”), embodying a playful creativity that the audience are as much a part of simply by using their own imaginations to fill the gaps. The set is minimal – a huge lampshade and a huge laundry bag (and, admittedly, a fortress of musical instruments, household items and looping equipment surrounding Mikey Kirkpatrick’s sound corner). Other than that, most of the props are cleverly out of sight, or carried on Wilder’s back, or hidden in the deep pockets of the narrator’s sparkly jacket. But there really isn’t that much, just lots of space for imagination.

As the show’s star can’t be seen, narrator Geraldine Heaney sets the scene, before Wilder (Tessa Parr) bursts out of the glowing laundry bag, instantly happier having left behind the chaotic household it contains. Packing away her noisy family and the rest of the house into a big bag allows us to share this happy space reserved only for Wilder and Mole (which is sort of in her bedroom, but sort of in her brain). You may not be able to see Mole, but you can certainly feel what it is like to have an imaginary friend.

Parr’s excitable energy and enthusiastic movement as Wilder lights up this play, while Heaney’s calm, warm narration is a soft glow. If the ending feels a little abrupt, I guess that’s sort of the point – I wanted more answers from a play that feels so dreamily non-specific, it’s fairly casual regarding the questions.

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