Review written by Flossie Waite
A co-production by Little Angel Theatre and Goblin
At Little Angel Theatre Saturday 17th September – Sunday 20th November
For ages 2-6
Let’s Fly is an adaptation of Little Angel’s new production Emily Rising, specially created for a younger audience. At first, the play feels like a slightly shabbier version of its older sibling, with hand-me-down vibes – finding ways to reuse the same puppets, throwing mucky grey covers over the Emily Rising set. But the production quite quickly stands on its own two feet: the stage is gradually filled with vibrant, colourful landscapes and Emily’s adventures in the air transformed to captivate ages 2-6.
Let’s Fly is a simpler story than the original, featuring only Emily: she wants to explore what the world looks like when soaring high above it. The riddle of Emily’s flight – why she is floating above the ground – is in this production solved: travelling to different terrains, she is continually swept off her feet, at first by a bunch of balloons, then a falling raindrop, a leaf from the jungle, even a shooting star. In fact, the struggle to bring Emily back to earth, the issues with the authorities, the uncertain relationship with her dad – all these elements of the Emily Rising narrative are gone. Though Let’s Fly strips Emily’s story down to its very essentials, one thing remains the same – as she flies further and further, seeing, experiencing and learning more, the world becomes increasingly beautiful.
The play’s opening moments are assured and engaging, immediately showcasing Director Samantha Lane’s instinctive understanding of this young audience – for her first production, it’s a promising start. Performer Shakera Louise Ahad initially assumes the role of Emily, winning the audience over with her amusing attempts to “take-off”; once airborne, Emily is played by a puppet. Because of the one-woman nature of the show, puppet Emily is often propped in different places, watching what’s happening rather than involved in it, which potentially acts as a barrier to development of, and engagement with, her character, though it also aligns her experience of onlooker with the audience’s. Another effect of having only one actor is that onstage activity occasionally pauses while Ahad sets up the next scene or grabs a prop. Both examples would be more of an issue with a less charismatic performer, and without the exceptional score by Mary Erskine and Will Dollard which takes the entire show to new heights. The pairing of Let’s Fly and Emily Rising is a clever move, allowing imaginations of all ages to take flight.
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