Kika’s Birthday

Reviewed by Flossie Waite
A Wizard Presents, Little Angel Theatre & Orange Tree Theatre co-production
Reviewed at Little Angel Theatre
Running at Little Angel Theatre until 20th May; playing at Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe 1st – 13th August
For ages 3-8

What a time to be alive! Two of my very favourite things – children’s theatre and baked goods – have come together, and there are currently two shows for young audiences playing in London all about cake: Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake at Polka Theatre, and Kika’s Birthday at Little Angel. But while Chocolate Cake sees a birthday treat go missing, in Kika’s Birthday, we watch as a chocolate sponge is made live on stage, the warm, sweet scent as it bakes filling the auditorium.

A masterful storyteller, Danyah Miller is best-known for her theatrical adaptations of Michael Morpurgo’s books, but Kika’s Birthday is a chance to hear a tale that she, alongside her husband John, has written. The theatre is strung with fairylights and festooned with bunting, the balloons have all been blown up and the presents are wrapped: the only thing left to do for daughter Sophie’s birthday tomorrow is bake a cake. As flour falls into the mixing bowl like a flurry of snow, Danyah is reminded of the story she tells Sophie the night before her birthday each year, of four little field mice celebrating their cousin Kika’s fifth birthday.

As she mixes the ingredients, Danyah whips up the story. The characters emerge out of the kitchen’s contents: the friendly field mice fashioned from an egg carton or a packet of butter, a sieve and oven gloves seeming to slink across the stage like a threatening cat. As well as offering up objects to be transformed, designer Alison Alexander’s set is also full of surprises, most of them mouse-sized, like the adorable miniature table set up for a teeny, tiny tea party.

The show really is like a birthday party and we are all invited: Danyah blows balloons for her waiting guests before the show begins, involves us throughout, from playing party games to asking for cookery tips, and even gives us a tasty treat for the way home. Aimed at ages 3 – 8, Kika’s Birthday will perhaps be best enjoyed by those under 6, who will undoubtedly appreciate it’s sweet, home-made (two words I wrote in my notebook without even realising the pun potential) feel as much as I did.

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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