Reviewed by Flossie Waite
Macrobert and Barrowland Ballet
Reviewed at The Studio at the Festival Theatre as part of Imaginate Festival
At Imaginate until 5th June
For ages 6 months – 4 years

After a week of intentionally awkward interactions, kids talking about tits, surreal nightmarish sequences, a show that may well impact my vote in the EU referendum, and theatre that could fuel a university thesis, dance-theatre piece Poggle feels a lot more familiar: it reminds me of Peter Pan and Luna. But whilst I might not have loved every show at Imaginate, what I’ve liked most about many of the other pieces I’ve watched is that each in their own way was different from anything I’d seen before. Imaginate’s programme is a delicate balance of diverse shows, and Poggle is at the more conventional end of the spectrum.

Poggle (Jade Adamson) is a mischievous woodland creature who wears a costume of leaves and loves chasing bugs. Vince (Vince Virr) is a little boy who wears a yellow anorak, he’s great at exploring but doesn’t like heights. The two investigate the forest using Fred Pommerehn’s inventive building block set, which is constantly taken apart and remade to reveal new animals, terrains and habitats. The set’s most vital role, though, is to serve as the tree that Vince is afraid to climb, a fear that unites the two characters as firm friends.

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Musician Daniel Padden also makes the most of the set, using it as an instrument in a show that utilises a ukulele (at one point played with drumsticks), clarinet, bells and the human body. The wandering minstrel and his music are reminiscent of the lute-playing rooster from the 1973 animated version of Robin Hood in both quality and style – the songs from that soundtrack are some of the best in Disney’s ouevre, whilst the rooster’s comb and feathers look not unlike Padden’s foppish hat and furry jumper. The most successful element of the show is its use of rhythms and percussion with corresponding dance, which seemed to spark the very youngest audience members into a frenzy of enthusiastic bobbing.

Imaginate has taught me a lot about my own tastes, having not previously been exposed to international work that generally seems more comfortable with pushing boundaries and testing audiences. More traditional productions like Poggle are an important part of the theatre landscape, but they’re just not my cup of tea.

Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.


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