Review by Amy Draper
The Wrong Crowd in association with Soho Theatre presents Kite as part of London International Mime Festival
Reviewed at Soho Theatre
At Soho Theatre 26th Jan – 6th Feb 2016; Touring nationally until April 9th 2016
For ages 7+
The graceful and surprising movement of a kite is a magical thing. It is magical as it swirls on a blustery beach and, it turns out, equally beautiful in a theatre space as it glides above the audience. Prior to seeing this charming show I hadn’t even heard of “indoor kites”, and it is easy to see how they inspired it.
The premise is enticing: a recently bereaved Girl (Charlotte Croft) moves in with a Grandmother (Liz Crowther) she doesn’t get on with. One day her kite comes to life and takes her on an adventure across the London rooftops. It is a wordless piece intended for both children and adults and in which, in the manner of stories like The Snowman, an unexpected object befriends the protagonist.
The show is being presented as part of the London International Mime Festival – a real annual highlight – and as such played to a full house. It was, however, a full house consisting of mainly adults, which felt like a shame. There are standout moments of compelling imagery and some lovely ideas – particularly effective was the chorus being the Wind, a neat concept that lent itself well to object manipulation throughout. The Wrong Crowd always use puppetry in their work and the two puppets that represented the Girl and the Grandmother were stunningly designed.
It is brilliant that companies continue to tackle complex issues in work for children, and this is a quiet piece in which a difficult subject matter is explored. However, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The storytelling was occasionally unclear, especially in the London rooftop sequence where different perspectives were blended confusingly: in wordless pieces, clarity is key. It also seemed to become more about the Grandmother’s journey – not in itself a bad thing – but I somewhat lost the Girl. More crucially, I lost the Kite. I always enjoyed watching it dance and dart, but didn’t feel as though its character had been fully realised, nor the relationship between it and the Girl. And what makes stories like The Snowman and The Red Balloon so memorable is this relationship.
This ultimately felt like a beautiful idea with more to be discovered and I look forward to seeing what The Wrong Crowd make next.
Amy is a freelance theatre maker and director who regularly creates pieces for young audiences. Recent credits include Macbeth (Shakespeare for Schools), These Trees are Made of Blood and Usagi Yojimbo (all at Southwark Playhouse) and the role of Assistant Director on the RSC’s First Encounters production of The Famous Victories of Henry V. Find her online www.amydraper.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @amyrosedraper