MOLE IN THE HOLE
by Tim Webb.
Oily Cart Tour to 14 February 2011.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 December at Unicorn Theatre (Clore auditorium) London.
Enjoyably adventurous hour with the moles.
A new sort of underground theatre experience, here, for 3-6s. After meeting the moles, and donning protective headgear, audience members journey to their home, reached by a simple path, with trays containing various-sounding surfaces, a couple of gateways (one later becoming a very gentle waterfall), and ending at a locked door.
Opening this is achieved through a sensible audience suggestion – like all Oily Cart pieces, Mole works with its young audiences not at them – and we’re into the circular tent-like structure where the moles live, suffering a visit from a busybody Rabbit, meeting a bat hanging upside-down, and discovering three objects, which audience members are asked to look after.
Luckily; for there’s a problem. The glow-worms are going out, entailing a journey to find the Great Glow-worm who can revive them. Digging through (imaginary) earth, encountering various creatures, led by the live-actor moles and the large puppet Millie, the audience burrows its way in search of the Great Glow-worm, a glamorous recluse.
With its sense of adventure and discovery, Mole provides both the immediate experience of the mole hole, including its visitors and stashed objects, and a forward-moving adventure as the moles get themselves out of the hole metaphorically dug by the glow-worms’ dilemma.
During the journey, audiences are invited to realise how the objects they’ve been guarding can be used. Combining the need to venture out yet stick together (Millie’s wandering off necessitates her rescue) it’s finely-geared and paced for the young spectator/participants, as they are guided round the sensory-rich space (an optional child-sized tunnel included).
Older children among the 3-6s will make most of the developing story, with younger ones responding more to the immediate experiences of each stage. But there’s plenty to please all, with Mr Mole as comically forgetful and pig-headed a mole as might be, till proved wrong by multiple audience voices, and a range of colourful puppet characters, plus the moles’ communication through musical phrases. Even with the mole home accommodating a lot of adults at a family performance, the piece works well; with audiences almost entirely of youngsters it could really take off.
Performers: Griff Fender, Arun Ghosh, Jumoke Oke, Caroline Partridge.
Director: Tim Webb.
Designer: Jens Demant Cole.
Lighting: Anna Watson.
Puppets: Sue Dacre.