Arriving at Greenwich Theatre’s busy ‘Little Line Up’, scores of children clutching balloon animals were noisily anticipating the afternoon’s entertainment. They were not to be disappointed. This collaboration between ‘Moon Mission Theatre Company’ and ‘Vertical Line Theatre’, companies that excel in finding a voice for young or young-at-heart audiences, is a wide reaching and colourful range of six pieces of new writing, all designed for children; from encouraging and exploring the role of the imagination, to dealing with difficult topics such as the loss of a parent, the series of presentations managed to hit exactly the right tone, keeping their young audience enthralled and actively participating throughout.
Each of the six ten minute performances was professionally produced and the casts of each story were talented and engaging. All credit must go to the hosting skills of Paul Duncan, the charming Master of Ceremonies who was disarmingly graceless – the children absolutely loved him. At once educational and sensitive to the age of their audience, each story had a lesson to be learnt and key characters that were both familiar and inspirational. Some of the stories such as The Mime Who Wouldn’t Be Silent had the feeling that they had walked straight off the page of a best-selling children’s book. Others, such as Moon Mission 5 4 3 2 1 represented tricky situations that children might have found familiar or negative. These situations were explored through therapeutic and unshackled creativity to provide hope and useful strategies for dealing with pain. Given that the six individual stories comprised a total of twenty-two cast members they were extremely connected and committed to the performances. The writing represented a respectful and non-ironic way of introducing children to the joys of theatre, celebrating drama, mime, and physical and musical theatre. Seamlessly weaving alliteration, poetry, rhyme, music and even the less scandalous details of the life of Pablo Picasso into the children’s subconscious this was a performance that children and adults alike would no doubt find delightful and stimulating.
The success of the afternoon was proven by the babble of excited voices I could hear around me throughout; responsive to the performances the children were connecting with the stories being presented to them guilelessly. Their engagement was demonstrated by their calling out to the actors and repeating key phrases, or asking their parents for affirmation about the plot. This was a highly entertaining afternoon for families with children of various ages. If, as is billed, this is a tasting menu of the range that will be on display at the Greenwich Theatre this year, then I would highly recommend bringing families to see the productions in their entirety. It could prove a talking point for the dinner table for a long while to come.
Review by Annemarie Hiscott
Vertical Line Theatre let Moon Mission Theatre Company take over the reins of their flagship event, LineUp. Together, they want to encourage playwrights to write for young people, which is why they hosted this new writing event for young audiences as the launch for their upcoming projects this year.
They showcased extracts from six different new plays for young people.
Mars Rover by German Munoz, directed by Adam Slepowronski
Mirror Me by Cat&Lou, directed by Imogen Beech
The Mime Who Wouldn’t Be Silent by Tom Powell, directed by Michael Beigel
Moon Mission 5 4 3 2 1 by Anne Stoffels
Pablo by Chris Timmermans, directed by Lilac Yosiphon
The Girl with the Imagination by Martyn Dempsey directed by Sean Turner
Saturday 17th January 2015
Sunday 18th January 2015