Land of Lights

Review by Flossie Waite
Presented by Oily Cart
15th Dec 2015 – 3rd Jan 2016
For ages 3-5

CV8-cZJW4AA26BrEntering an Oily Cart show is always like entering a different world; with their latest production, this is explicitly the case. Follow the tiny houses from the foyer into artsdepot’s theatre, and you’ll find the Land of Lights. It’s everything you would expect from a nation created by Oily Cart: multi-sensory, immersive and magical.

Currently, the country’s population is 0: peeking through windows, it’s clear that all the little homes are empty. Where has everyone gone? The answer comes from above, as a hot air balloon floats onto stage, bringing us the last remaining resident. The stars have fallen from the sky, Pol explains, and that’s why everyone has left. It’s up to the audience to find the stars, and to help Pol’s balloon fly again.

Leaving no stone unturned, it’s an adventure that involves smelling for clues (a gardener’s mint, a chef’s orange) and feeling for evidence, whether in sloppy jelly or frothy bubbles. It’s delightfully messy work that the children take very seriously, invested in the quest and anxious to help. Their efforts are guided by a trio of actors (John Afzal, Susannah Austin, Griff Fender) performing a range of colourful characters – the French cook with his sparkly bowtie, the gardener with his carrot hat.

The twinkly conclusion means its just as much fun exiting the theatre as it was arriving, just one aspect of Claire de Loon’s ambitious design. If Oily Cart did run a country, I’d move there tomorrow. For now, I’m happy to be first in line to their shows.

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