Edinburgh Fringe 2011
In a unique event where a 5-minute show is performed for an audience of 1 (and an accompanying adult), the charming story of a boy who loves to eat books (written by Oliver Jeffers), is brought to life in an outstanding technically skilled experience …
Oliver Jeffers’ children’s book has been adapted by Bootworks Theatre Company for presentation to an audience of 1 child (and/or adult) at a time, with the use of masks, puppetry, live projection and a pre-recorded sound-track.
Even whilst waiting to see the performance I was impressed. The waiting area has been set-up with couches, cushions, books, colouring pages and soft toys, and it was whilst sitting in this area that I witnessed the incredible teamwork of the cast as they worked around the black box where the audience member sat.
My turn to enter the black box arrived, and after climbing into the chair and listening to a brief introductory explanation, the performance began. As you sit in the chair, three windows open and shut in front of you, revealing elements of the story all timed to coincide exactly with the soundtrack. The performers seamlessly don masks, manipulate puppets, utilise physical theatre, and animate transparencies on projectors to bring the story to life.
The story itself, an adaptation of an award-winning children’s book, tells of a boy named Henry who not only loves books, but he loves to eat them – literally. It has a great lesson in it, and the pace with which the piece is performed allows the audience to follow the story comfortably.
As I left the box, I was handed a personally hand-written note from Henry, (I even saw the puppet write it!) who hoped I had enjoyed the show.
This production is the theatre company’s first foray into children’s theatre, and its unique style is well suited to festivals and theatre foyers where children’s programming is featured. The group provides a beautifully structured experience for children … and their adults, where every possible element has been well thought through. I love children’s books, and loved each aspect of this presentation myself, even without one of my children being there!
The team encourage the audience members to write comments in a book after the show … I flipped through a few of the pages, and the unanimous response of the people who wrote in it agree, as I do, that this is an outstanding experience for children, worthy of five stars.