Dot, Squiggle and Rest

Review by Flossie Waite
A Polka Theatre and Royal Opera House co-production
Royal Opera House
At Polka Theatre 26th June – 16th August
For ages 2-4

A synesthetic exploration of sounds and shapes – their colours and personalities – based in an earthy garden, Dot, Squiggle and Rest is an opera made up of moments. Early years’ audiences don’t necessarily require narrative, but this production needs something to tie all its parts together – without roots, the different ideas can’t grow.

Polka Theatre and the Royal Opera House have combined forces to create an admirably experimental piece for two to four-year-olds. Billed as an opera, any preconceptions about the form go out of the window, as creator Joy Haynes ensures Dot, Squiggle and Rest never plays by the rules: the cellist (Zosia Jagodzinska), for instance, continues stoically on as soprano Sarah Dacey and dancer Jasmiina Sipila play with her hair and rip up her sheet music, turning it into paper puppets. The vocals range from nonsense words and soundscapes, to topics you can easily imagine would want to make you sing: “Oh, what a lovely day, so fresh and bright, a lovely sunny day!” Not that Elspeth Brooke’s music is twee, with the cello accompaniment often adding a particularly dynamic note.

It isn’t easy to define; combining music, opera, puppetry and digital projection, but all in a totally abstract way, Dot, Squiggle and Rest just exists as a highly visual, extremely atmospheric experience more than anything else.

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