Review written by Flossie Waite
A Theatre Alibi production
Reviewed at Lyric Hammersmith
Touring nationally until December
For ages 5-11
No one is more surprised than Paul when he decides that he wants to touch the sky – told by everyone that he is unadventurous and unimaginative, Paul has, up until today, dutifully believed it. Pursuing his madcap quest, he travels to the 29th Floor of his block, bumping into barmy neighbour Molly (or is it Mabel?) who is not only interested in what Paul has to say but seizes upon his next idea: that the moon is actually a hole in the sky. Her determination to test his theory ushers in a troupe of quirky characters, each more eccentric than the last, in this magical realist play based on David Almond’s book.
There is a patchwork quality to The Boy Who Climbed Into The Moon, as though bits of three separate tales have been selected and stitched together: Paul’s ascent to the top of his building and meeting with Molly; his introduction to Molly’s brother Benjamin, a former solder who passionately warns against war; and finally his clamber up and into the moon, along with everything (and everyone) he finds there. Theatre Alibi’s adaptation is therefore almost in three distinct acts, each with its own quality and texture. Just when you start to feel like you’ve got the measure of things, it all shifts; everything has a slightly off-kilter, zany, unpredictable nature, matching the bunch of misfits the play introduces.
Performers Kirsty Cox, Sian Kidd and Jordan Whyte masterfully take on multiple characters, managing to create diverse personalities that are very funny, whilst still retaining the sad, unsettled strangeness fundamental to Almond’s creations. Sometimes the material struggles to entertain such a large age range (5-11) – Benjamin’s scene in particular is quite wordy, as he rambles on about ‘the war’, resulting in restlessness from younger audience members eventually remedied with more movement (some very enthusiastic fake-dying appeals to everyone watching.) As a play, it is and does its own thing – celebrating the weird and wonderful, and reminding us that the sky’s the limit (and also, sausages are better than war.)
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