by Tove Jansson translated by Thomas Warburton adapted by Phil Porter lyrics by Ben Glasstone and Phil Porter music by Ben Glasstone..

Royal & Derngate (Underground) Guildhall Road NN1 1DP To 1 June.
11am 28, 29 May, 1 June.
2pm 28, 29, 31 May, 1 June.
6pm 30, 31 May.
TICKETS: 01604 624811.

then Polka Theatre 240 The Broadway Wimbledon SW19 1SB
11 June-16 August 2014.
11am 14, 21, 28 June, 23, 25, 26 July, 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16 Aug.
12pm 29 June, 5 July
2.30pm 14, 21, 28 June, 19, 22-26, 29 July-2 Aug, 5-7, 9, 12-14, 16 Aug.
3pm 29 June.
3.30pm 5 July.
BSL Signed 5 July 3.30pm.
Relaxed Performance 28 June 11am.
‘All ages welcome’ Performances 21 June 11am, 5 July 12pm, 23, 25, 26, 30 July, 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16 Aug 11am.
Post-show Discussion 26 July 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 8543 4888.

Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 May.

Gently delightful yet lively story from a Finnish centenary.
British theatre doubly celebrates Finnish writer/illustrator Tove Jansson’s centenary, Southwark-based Unicorn Theatre adapting her 1962 novel The Summer Book in June, as Phil Porter’s adaptation of her fifth Moomin book for children transfers from the Royal & Derngate to Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre.

A fitting choice, Moominsummer Madness sees the family of endearingly furry trolls flooded out of their house and taking refuge in an old theatre.

Or, some do. They’ve been separated, the adult Moomins trying to cope with unfamiliar theatrical features including scenery, a revolving stage and trapdoors. Maybe the claims made for the art of theatre sound self-congratulatory when spoken in one, but that’s not likely to worry the 4-8 audience, happily seated on a cushioned slope in the Royal & Derngate’s Underground space.

Northampton’s working alongside some of London’s finest children’s theatre companies, with co-direction by Associate Director Dani Parr and Polka’s chief Peter Glanville, and Moomin puppets fashioned, after Hansson’s illustrations, by Lyndie Wright, co-founder of Glanville’s previous theatrical home, the Little Angel, Islington-based puppetry specialists.

From the early scene where adventurous Moomnintroll dives through a hole sawn in the upper floor of the house to rescue breakfast from the submerged ground-floor and ‘swims’ through the air, there’s a gentle dignity to the characters – even tough and determined Little My, who latches on to anything going – reflected in their voicing by the black-clad puppet operators who manage to remain both present and unapparent, when not switching unobtrusively between characters.

Or, indeed, singing and playing Ben Glasstone’s attractive, flowing music, an essential part of this show’s delightful qualities. As is Laura McEwen’s deign, which includes several pieces that seem to float into the action, notably the illuminated stage and scenery where Moominpappa sets to learning to use a typewriter, writing a play, publicity for which is intended to reunite the family.

For the children have to escape jail and the one character played by an actor in costume, the loomingly officious Hemulen Policeman. So there’s plenty of story, made fully theatrical in a piece which, like the typewriter in the computer age, has an individual, period charm.

Hemulen Policeman/Moominpappa/Snufkin: Nick Ash.
Little My/Moominmamma: Ruth Calkin.
Snork Maiden/Emma/Little My: Claire Harvey.
Moomintroll/Misabel/Marketing Bird: Lori Hopkins.

Directors: Dani Parr/Peter Glanville.
Designer: Laura McEwen.
Lighting: Will Evans.
Sound: Martin Thompson.
Puppets: Lyndie Wright.

2014-05-28 09:54:56

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