Puck, Bottom, Titania and Oberon – Lucy Wells, Peter Mooney, Kate Hardisty and Alex Tosh. Photo © Julian Swainson
The Garage on Chapelfield North is a pleasant small venue that regularly offers theatre shows made specifically for very young audiences. Their summer holiday production seems ambitious at first, bringing Shakespeare to the 0-7 year old theatregoing market. This may appear impossible, but in fact it works very well indeed. It helps that they use the forest scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of Shakespeare’s two most magical plays) as their starting point.
This show encourages the children and their adults to participate throughout the show if they want to. It is full of music, colour and exuberant costumes but is carefully designed not to frighten or alarm young children.
Kate Hardisty plays both Quince the leader of The Mechanicals acting troupe of the play within a play and also the Fairy Queen Titania. Alex Tosh is the Fairy King Oberon and Snout the Mechanical. Lucy Wells plays the mischievous Puck and the actor Flute, with Peter Mooney doubling as the energetic actor Bottom and a Fairy. The four all play instruments and sing, filling this lively show with music. They look as though they are really enjoying themselves and keep the youngsters engaged throughout the show. All four are very good, and Peter Mooney clearly has a lot of fun playing the role of Bottom, one of the best comedic characters ever created.
The Mechanicals are rehearsing a play to put on for the Duke of Athens but venturing into the forest they get caught up in the world of the Fairy King and Queen and their fun and games. Bottom is transformed into a braying donkey startled to find the Fairy Queen waking up devoted to him!
The children outnumbered the adults in the audience and they all enjoyed the show, and had their attention held throughout. These “My First…” shows give parents and children a nice opportunity to do things together as they are all asked to help in the tasks the actors need to complete to keep the story going. Director Daniel Burgess has created a happy show which gets across the humour of the original and will give children a great start to a lifelong interest in seeing live theatre. The clever lighting used gives us the chance to let our imaginations run as we share the forest fun, even the entrance to the auditorium is a magic tunnel of fairy lights.
With three shows every day until August 4th at child-friendly times there are plenty of opportunities to catch this show but I am sure tickets will be going fast as the “My First” shows have proved to be very popular.
© Julian Swainson 2019
The Garage and All-In Productions present My First Play: A Midsummer Night’s Nap at The Garage, 14 Chapel Field North, Norwich, NR2 1NY, Saturday 20 July – Sunday 4 August, 10.15am, 1.15pm and 3.15pm. Tickets cost £12.50 adult / £7.50 child / under 1s go free. Call 01603 598646 or visit www.thegarage.org.uk. To book for the relaxed performance call The Garage on 01603 283382.
For more information and to book tickets visit www.thegarage.org.uk or call 01603 598646
Read the Norwich Eye preview here: https://norwicheye.co.uk/whats-on/my-first-play-a-midsummer-nights-nap-an-interactive-show-for-ages-0-7/