Director: Michael Bryher
Writer: Sam Gayton, based on an original idea by Sam Gayton, Nicola Cutcher and Hester Bond.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
The Public Reviews Rating:
After a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Dumbshow’s thought provoking and fun children’s production has come to the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith for two nights. After a young boy is found washed up on a beach by a professor and his band of robot helpers, the challenge is on to save him. But this young boy is going to have a greater effect on this isolated group than they ever could imagine.
Although designed for children this story explores the themes of love, loss, grief and betrayal in a very adult way. This story is not for the faint hearted or overly sentimental, as the tears of a few younger children proved as Clockheart Boy (performed sensitively by Michael Bryher) was attacked by the robot version of the professor’s lost daughter and collapsed on the floor. At times older members of the audience also became chocked up as the heartbreaking story of the professor, performed captivatingly by Jack Cole, was slowly revealed. The love between him and Sophie (Hester Bond) was believable and full of fun. Special mention must go to the professor’s helpers, Brolly (Patrick Jones), Bulb (Gethin Jones), Gobble (Nicola Cutcher) and Peepers (Lottte Allan) whose continual enthusiasm and storytelling abilities engaged the young audience throughout. This was all complimented by the sensitive playing of Rollo Clarke on the keyboard.
Apart from the sadness of some members of the audience who were expecting a happy ending for their children and were sorely disappointed, was the confusion of some members of the audience who struggled to understand what this piece actually wanted to be. Parts of it were fast paced, silly and designed to engage a young audience, the creation of Clockheart Boy was a lovely example of this, while other parts dealt with serious issues and some of the concepts must have gone over the target audience’s head. The message at the end of the piece, although hopeful, was very philosophical and jarred slightly with the fun and slap stick feel of previous scenes.
Running at just under 1hr 30mins this production was full of colour, enthusiasm and fun. The set and props were creative and captivating and there were a good array of jokes for the children as well as the adults in the audience. This is an interesting and thought provoking piece that will challenge your ideas about children’s theatre and what children are able to appreciate and understand.
This production is suitable for children of 6 years and over.