Let’s start at the end and work backwards. You need to know straightaway that by the close of Shiny, it was like being in the middle of a firework, or a magpie’s dream. I can’t wait whole paragraphs to describe the bit where the audience play together, with and amongst fluttering, floating shiny material. I need to convey immediately just how dazzling Shiny is.
This production invites itself into the audience’s world and temporarily changes it. Shiny is up close and intimate, giving each child a personal experience – props fly above their heads or close to their faces, babies are carefully lifted and spun in a whirl of dazzling fabric, little ones are invited to dance across a sea of silver material. At the same time there is still a sense of audience community, culminating in everyone coming into the playing space to explore its shiny treasure.
And all of this started from such simple beginnings. Two performers dressed in drab brown, Liz Clark and Oksana Tyminka, explore the piles of cardboard boxes heaped at the back of the stage. Gradually, everything – including them – is shiny, imbued with an old school glamour from their costumes and the music. For such a young audience, there is no real narrative, but a very strong structure, and textures, materials, sounds, shapes and movement make this a treat for the senses that ebbs and flows and surprises.
Phrases that are so often used when talking about theatre for young audiences, and that so often aren’t to be trusted, really mean something when talking about Shiny. It is interactive: it’s a 50-minute theatrical experience that the audience can own and take part in. It is a true example of family theatre, encouraging and offering opportunities for children and adults to engage together.
This review started at the end, but of course, that’s not the very, very end. The end is families in their cars, on the bus or taking the tube, clutching bits of silver and gold paper liberated from the show, and wishing it wasn’t over.
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