by Mary Cooper.
M6 Theatre Company Unicorn Theatre 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ To 9 February 2014.
11am 30 Jan, 4-7 Feb.
11.30am 1, 2, 8, 9 Feb.
2pm 30 Jan, 1, 4-6, 9 Feb.
Runs 45min No interval.
then Tour 12 Feb-22 March 2014.
TICKETS: 020 7645 0560
www.theunicorn.com (London performances only).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 January.
Worth a ‘station stop’ for 5+s and their families: take the grandparents too.
Parents give young children stability; grandparents provide solidity. It’s the nuclear family equivalent of the saying, traditional in some societies, that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Not, of course, a city, or even a suburb, nut a village.
The sense of being valued, if sometimes critically, not for what you are but for being yourself, is important to any young person. And trust in the older people doing the valuing is vitally important.
Distant enough to make it bearable when they are, as usual, the first of the recognised family circle to leave this world behind, grandparents also represent a continuity with the past – they remember mummy and daddy when little, and back beyond that, yet have their distinctive personalities, just distant enough from their grandchildren to be distinguished in a way that (usually) ever-present parents cannot easily be.
How can these serious, loving people ever have been filled with childhood uncertainties? What does a shift in their lives mean? Mary Cooper’s new play for 5+ lets its audiences consider such matters.
Ruby’s grandparents have had to consider getting round a large house on older limbs; heating it and making use of all its space. All this wouldn’t mean much to Ruby, so it’s not dwelt on in the play. But they aren’t leaving her; they want to move closer and are taking things for her.
Grandpa’s favourite toy is something that might interest the young girl. Trains have so involved him for years that Grandpa spends a lot of time in the attic with his elaborate model railway set, even using a tannoy to communicate, station-announcement style, with Grandma downstairs.
It’s as fascinating for the audience to watch the trains leave the station or go through the tunnels as it is for Grandpa. Thomas Frere and Belinda Lazenby create the sense of a long marriage, comforable together and accepting his boyhood-like time with the trains. Their steady performances, enhanced at times by music, played and sung live, add to the gentle, happy move towards the resolution which means life can change but still go on.
Grandpa: Thomas Frere,
Grandma: Belinda Lazenby.
Voiceovers: Alicia Brown, George Denton, Morgan Forrest, Rhianne York, Tayo Akinbode, Caroline Kennedy, Olwen May.
Director: Olwen May.
Designer/Costume: Pip Nash.
Lighting/model Railway: Joss Matzen.
Sound/Composer: Tayo Akinbode.
12 Feb 1.30pm & 4pm The Brindley Runcorn 0151 907 8360 www.thebrindley.org.uk
15 Feb 10am & 3pm Gala Theatre Durham 0191 332 4041 www.galadurham.co.uk
16 Feb 3pm Town Hall Theatre Hartlepool 01429 890000 www.whatsshappeninginhartlepool.com
17 Feb 10.30am & 1.30pm Arts Centre Washington 0191 219 3455 www.artscentrewashington.co.uk
18 Feb 2pm & 4pm Civic at Central Hall Darlington 01325 486555 www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk
19-22 Feb Wed 1pm; Thu-Say 11.30am & 3pm The Egg Bath 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk/theegg
1 Mar 11am & 2pm The North Wall Oxford 01865 319450 www.thenorthwall.com
2 Mar 1pm & 3.30pm Lakeside Arts Centre Nottingham 0115 846 7777 www.lakesidearts.org.uk
8 Mar 1pm & 3pm Warwick Arts Centre (Studio) Coventry 024 7652 4524 www.warwickartscentre.co.uk
9 Mar 1pm & 3pm The Lowry (Studio) Salford 0843 208 6010 www.thelowry.com/family
21 Mar 6.30pm Borough Theatre Abergavenny 01873 850805 www.boroughtheatreabergavenyy.co.uk
22 Mar 2pm & 4pm The Riverfront Newport 01633 656757 www.newport.gov.uk/theriverfront