by Greta Clough.
Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN To 2 August.
11am & 2pm.
Baby Friendly 11am Sun.
Runs 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 July.
Doing what comes naturally, and doing it beautifully.
Old Saw (as in “wise instances” rather than a cutting-edge tool) scored a success with their previous piece Tomten which has toured widely since being at the Little Angel. Meadow deserves at least equal success. It’s as fine a piece of theatre as any 3-6 year old might be fortunate enough to see.
A meadow isn’t so easy to find these days. What was natural in temperate climates half-a-century ago has been ploughed-up or built-over, for financial gain and political expediency. Greta Clough’s piece recreates the daily life-cycle of a local ecology, where insects, birds, flowers and river live in a benign, self-sustaining way.
Of course, it seems less benign if you’re a little creature being swooped or pounced upon by a hungry bigger creature, but such necessities are not the concern here. From the moment the clusters of bush and flowers on Alex Wheeler’s colourful set begin to shake with creatures coming to morning life and feeding from flowers, or making bold leaps from one clump to another as they try-out their wings, to the flight by night of the wide-winged owl, this is a detailed picture of meadow life.
As is right for its younger audience-members, Meadow doesn’t create a story as such. The story lies in the situation, a picture gradually coloured-in by the precision and expertise of the three puppeteer performers.
There’s a delicacy and detail from the earliest moments, before actual puppets appear, when their fingers create the tiny creatures flickering their lives around this meadow.
Clough’s structure, reinforced by her direction, gives a sense of progression within the situation, as of the tremendous variety of life to be found in a traditional meadow. The art is in concealing artifice; everything seems to come along naturally, within a rhythm of life that’s both leisurely and ever-active.
The piece respects its characters, which don’t have human characteristics forced upon them. There is, though, a sense of the decisions even the most minute have to make, which gives a sympathetic connection for young people who have been learning to walk, run, climb furniture and not get burned.
Performers: Jane Crawshaw, Mark Essias, Elaine Hartley.
Director: Greta Clough.
Designer/Costume: Alex Wheeler.
Lighting: Jon Jewitt.
Composer: Paul Mosley.