Molly’s Marvellous Moustache

Review written by Flossie Waite
A Fidget Theatre in association with LittleMighty production
Reviewed at Gala Theatre as part of TakeOff Festival
Touring nationally Autumn 2016/ Spring 2017

For children aged 3-7

If being a grown up involves having a moustache, then few people can have hit puberty since about 1978. Still, that’s what Molly wants – a hairy upper lip so she can be just like the adults. Molly’s Mum makes her fake facial accessory, bridging the gap between Molly and being Big: as a grown-up, she can do whatever she wants, like look for monkeys as a jungle explorer, visit the moon as an astronaut, or fly loop-the-loops as a pilot. But some things adults do aren’t as much fun, like eating mushrooms and dealing with dodgy builders – maybe living as a grown-up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (it’s good to learn early…)

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There’s an unusual relationship between Molly and the picturebook it is based on: author Andrea Heaton is also Artistic Director of Fidget Theatre, and wrote the stage adaptation herself. As picturebook adaptations continue to dominate the children’s theatre sector, often with little input from writers and illustrators themselves, it is refreshing to find a first-time author navigate the relationship between page and stage, and it would be interesting to know more about Heaton’s process. How do you make decisions about what to cut, and what to keep? Molly’s original motivation to grow up – she’s about to become a big sister – is gone, whereas it seems that the majority of her adult adventures remain.

Ceri Ashcroft plays Molly as an endearing, engaging child, avoiding the sickly sweetness sometimes found in portrayals of little girls. Co-perfomer Kathryn Hanke is a great comic actor, with Molly’s various careers an opportunity to reveal her range. Whether playing Molly’s ‘artist friend’ Clemmie P – a breathless art enthusiast who greets Molly with the rhyme “Up high, down low, do a face like a Picasso” – or a brainy German engineer, she demonstrates an admirable ability for accents and improvisation.

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Hanke’s quips are one form of audience interaction in a production packed with participation that evolves naturally from the story. Not only are the audience encouraged to engage with the performers (there’s even an auction to buy Molly’s art) but with each other – when Molly creates an invention, the audience have to work together to bring it to life.

An ambitious Molly is keen to try out a number of different jobs, and eventually the play ends up feeling too long. But as a first production from Fidget Theatre, Molly’s Marvellous Moustache indicates that the company’s future will be … marvellous.

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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