Edinburgh Fringe 2013
The plot at first seems quite simple; all boys wish they were superheroes with super powers. I’m sure there are many of us who have imagined scenes when we were younger when we saved the day against the horrible bullies. As the plot unfolds we start to see there is a darker and sadder thread unravelling through all the comic strip jokes and red capes, and we start to understand a complex human response to suffering, revealing the sensitivity of children and their perceptions of the world around them.
The characters feel at times, like the set, like comic strip versions of themselves but actually this works well for the piece as it makes it feel more accessible to a younger audience without it losing value. This as a piece of children’s theatre contrasts against more ethereal and dreamy pieces. This is much more earthy and contemporary but this makes it feel refreshing and it’s clear that this piece devises from background work that aims to address emotional issues in children. There were some very funny moments that balanced some sad moments. As a performance it was well paced with good weighting to scenes and dialogue. The script was simple , clear and effective and cleanly delivered.
The scene changeovers were great fun and lively and made a narrative all of their own, the cast gave it lots of energy, which often lifted the sadness of some of the scenes, allowing the audience to sigh out a bit. The use of very low tech props was lovely and fitted the storyline and the lighting worked well.
The snail that carries the night on its back, although sweet and funny, sometimes felt at odds with the story – something didn’t quite connect up as well and the imagery although well thought out didn’t quite work for younger viewers as a metaphor.
The two central characters, Tillie and Inari were mostly believable recreations of 11 year olds although in some ways they felt like very innocent 11 year olds from 20 years ago…not perhaps like most today…but this wasn’t necessarily a negative thing and as role models for the younger audience they were played meaningfully.
There were beautiful and very satisfying scenes with the perfectly portrayed counsellor with heartening echoes spreading out through the play showing the gently positive influences that adults can have on children who still need guidance on how to cope with loss, rejection and anger. There were moving moments when both children had to face their own grief. The subject matter, although quite heavy, was lightly played overall and at a level that most children would be able to deal with comfortably and I liked the way that children might come away from this performance with tools and attitudes for dealing with adversity.