One Little Word

Review by Flossie Waite
An M6 Theatre Company Production
Unicorn Theatre
6th -21st June
For ages 3+

Though One Little Word is almost entirely silent, an audience of young children understand exactly what it is trying to say. A sudden chorus of “She’s not sharing!” echoed through the auditorium, as the audience watched Girl (Eve Robertson) take all the toys away from Boy (Adam Jowett). A lesson in doing fantastic things with ordinary stuff, this simple story explores the troubled waters of childhood friendship and taking turns.

Boy and Girl are very different: he is careful, gentle and quiet; she is energetic, fast-paced and haphazard. Though it’s not always easy, they do find ways to work together, and the majority of the production is them creating and captaining a ship out of everyday objects, becoming absorbed in their imagined adventure. This means that whilst the play’s core is their falling out, it is careful not to apportion blame, or make either character “better” or “nicer”. These things happen, it suggests, it’s how you respond to them that matters.

That said, the production doesn’t underestimate the importance of these moments in a young person’s life. Its success lies in taking children’s concerns seriously, with one example being the opening sequence, when Boy plays alone and draws a boat. His pride in the picture makes it magical, and the audience truly feel and respond to his delight, gasping in wonder as he proudly reveals it.

Forty minutes of hushed action is enhanced by Tayo Akinbode’s music, reinforcing the characters personalities – Boy is usually accompanied by soft piano, Girl by spirited drums. When Girl’s enthusiastic play becomes overzealous and hurts Boy, this moment is even more powerful because of the complete silence. This is an accessible and engaging production capturing the multi-faceted and unsentimental reality of being little.

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