Reviewed by Flossie Waite
Presented by Little Angel Theatre
Playing at Little Angel until 29th January
For ages 2-6
Me… explores the developing sense of self in the very young, and their awareness of themselves in relation to the world. It’s also about the relationship between parents and children – from the slightly saccharine conclusion that though a child may be small, they are the biggest thing in their parent’s life, to the loving, trusting parenting style that encourages independence, perseverance and resilience. But mostly it’s about sweet animals doing cute stuff.
You would need a heart of ice not to love the central character in Me… – a newborn fluffy penguin exploring its snowy surroundings, and feeling very small in comparison. Little Angel’s production is based on the picturebook by Emma Dodd, though the stage adaptation creates a greater sense of narrative with the addition of a few hurdles for the adorable lead to face. However, unlike the set’s craggy antarctic terrain, the production is emotionally quite flat. Invested though we might be in the super-cute protagonist, there is little dramatic tension despite moments of peril and jeopardy. In part this seems down to the fact that though we seem to be experiencing events from the little penguin’s point of view, we do not see the world through her eyes. It is up to the audience to imagine the spectacular sights and surroundings that make the penguin feel so small – the deep ocean, the steep mountains, the huge hordes of other penguins. In the book, every page turn reveals a new, different terrain. By keeping the set (what looks like an icy valley) the same throughout the performance, a key feature of the book and what makes it visually interesting is lost.
The movement of the puppets is quite similar throughout, un-helped by the set. At times, for instance, it’s unclear whether the penguins are meant to be swimming underneath the ice or skimming across its smooth surface – in the end, it’s probably multiple, seemingly identical, scenes of both. This production (like its penguin) is short and sweet, but needs a bit more variety.
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