Flyaway Katie

Review by Holly Barradell (aged 29) & Madison (aged 16 months)
Long Nose Puppets production of Flyaway Katie
Reviewed at The Gulbenkian
Touring nationally until 12th June 2016
For ages 2-7 (although babies on laps welcome too!)

Please don’t fly away Katie, we don’t want it to end! What a totally mesmerising piece of theatre – my little 16 month old (probably the youngest reviewer ever) can be hard to please, but he sat in total silence and awe watching what was unfolding on the stage. We haven’t read Polly Dunbar’s original book about a lonely girl and her imagination, but that didn’t matter – the puppeteers ‘fly’ you through the story with wonderful music and colours. Listening to the children’s laughter as the caterpillar sang and the frowns of concern when ‘Blue’ appeared just showed how closely and emotively they were following the story.

From my technical theatre background I particularly enjoyed watching the puppetry happen, with changing backdrops dropping in and out like a life-size set model box; a subtle enough touch that the children would never have noticed once the bubbles started and the mirror ball went on! Some very simple touches made this production a ‘proper’ theatrical treat for the young audience members (in an almost sold out theatre!), like giving them allocated, raked seats around a thrust stage. This is so important – baby and children’s theatre is wonderful but often audiences sit on the floor in unallocated places, causing some stress for parents trying to nab the best seats for the best view! Flyaway Katie gives a real understanding of what to expect from theatre when you grow up.

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Even though we didn’t want the performance to end, there were a few post-curtain surprises: the children were able to go up to the stage and ‘meet’ the puppets, and as we left the auditorium we were able to purchase goodies to take home to remember our magical matinee. Don’t miss Katie if she is flying to a theatre near you soon!

Holly is a Drama Education consultant who trained originally in Stage Management at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She became a secondary Drama teacher before moving into curriculum design and reform. Holly is part of the exec at National Drama as well as Vice Chair of Governors at her local primary school, and most importantly is a Mum to her 1 year old little boy. You can read more about what Holly gets up to on her blog. Follow Holly @drama_holly

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