by Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis.
Unicorn Theatre (Foyle Studio) 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ To 4 January 2015.
Fri 9.30am, 11am.
Sat, Sun 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm (performances sold out).
Runs c40min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 December.
Rapt attention of the young in show about unwrapping.
‘Scrunch’ sounds something like it means. And how things sound is important in this play, devised through the joint expertise of performer Kevin Lewis, from Cardiff-based young people’s company Theatr Iolo, and Sarah Argent a Welsh-based director working in theatre for the very young.
How do you achieve the right state for young people not yet familiar with the idea of being in a theatre audience? At the Unicorn the answer is to use the floors normally not seen by audiences. This, with careful scheduling, means, first, the second-floor – where a waiting area sells coffee and cake to adults while providing books and games for the young people they are accompanying.
After a (brief) briefing on protocols from Argent – including, importantly, what it is all right for children to do, and also where adults should sit – one at least with their child, others possibly on chairs lining the walls behind the cushion-covered floor (to ensure the young have priority in placing without feeling abandoned), everyone climbs to level four, where Lewis stands in a largely white environment of draped walls, with, in one corner, a cot.
Here he places a baby, a doll he soothes to sleep. For the rest o the performance Lewis doesn’t create the externals of being a young child, but catches expertly a very young person’s reactions to the world of the home around. He greets the sound of the doorbell ringing with “Doorbell”, a matter of interest, perhaps surprise in its repetition, but still part of life – and something it’s an achievement to recognise and explain to the rest of us, who might not recognise the sound. The bell brings presents and a card, which Lewis (and the audience) loves putting on his head until it falls.
The longest sentence spoken is “For you” when the final delivery at the door brings wrapping-paper for children and parents to enjoy handling, as the play becomes play. It’s a matter of experiencing an everyday situation rather than developing a story, for everyday experiences constitute the story so early in life and have an interest in themselves.
Performer: Kevin Lewis.
Director: Sarah Argent.
Lighting: Jane Lalljee.