SUNFLOWERS AND SHEDS: Gilly Baskeyfield, Dorothy Wood
M6 at Birmingham Rep Theatre: the Door
Runs: 50m, no interval, to 22 12 10
Review: Rod Dungate, 16 12 10

Charming, skilled, absolutely right.

There is a great delight in watching a play specially created for young children and the rapt attention the children pay to this charming tale is a mark of the skill of its creators.

It’s a very simple story. Frank tends his allotment – his daughter and grandson now live in Australia, so he’s pretty much on his own. Then the vacant plot next to his is taken by young Isabella. She disturbs Frank’s comfortable routine and there’s friction. But eventually friendship wins out and Frank goes off on a big adventure.

Performed with skilful clarity by the two actors, there are many long moments of quiet while plants are tended or chicken fed. There are gentle touches of humour too. It is all a lovely change from the vigorous narrative pace adopted for much young people’s entertainment in bigger spaces. In SUNFLOWERS AND SHEDS you feel these nursery and infant age children are given time to experience the moments of surprise, happiness and sadness – an all-important exploration of empathy so vital in our lives.

We loved watching the cabbages grow as much as we liked watching the sunflowers. And the only sound heard from the children was the occasional child answering the conversational gambits of the chicken.

Frank: Luke Walker
Isabella: Even Robertson

Written and Directed by: Gilly Baskeyfield and Dot Wood
Designed: Joss Matzen
Composer: Tayo Akinbode
Lighting Designer: Adam Carree

2010-12-17 09:40:33

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