THE PAPER DOLLS
based on the book by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Rebecca Cobb.
Little Angel Theatre 24 Dagmar Passage N1 2DW To 28 June 2015.
Runs 45min No interval.
TICKET: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 May.
Sight, sound and story richly combined.
It seems amazing the Little Angel’s show for 3-7s is only 45 minutes long. Not because it’s tedious. Time seems to fly as breezily as do these paper dolls during the story adapted from Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb’s book. But because there’s so much in the adventure, which never seems hurried as puppeteer-performers Andrea Sadler and Jane Crawshaw tell the story of young Rosie and the chain of five dolls her mother cuts from a sheet of paper.
They open-up a new world to Rosie’s imagination. Her clothes feature in this, their patterns helping give rise to the creatures featuring in the Dolls’ adventures, with danger presented by a tiger, a crocodile and others. Worst of all, perhaps, is a Boy who attacks the dolls with scissors. In this play he’s identified as Rosie’s brother, a comparatively huge presence bouncing clumsily along in a sack.
Lyndie Wright’s design is faithful to Cobb’s visual world, while her puppets have the ingenuity and expressive richness expected of the Little Angel’s co-founder. The result is something to delight young people familiar with Donaldson’s book while giving new pleasure in the puppet figures, created with imaginative simplicity – be it the crocodile hand extension, or the tiger’s head and separate body section.
But the Dolls themselves chiefly delight, snipped rapidly (before being soon replaced by a colourful puppet substitute – a new variation: puppets of paper models?) and holding hands like a loyal band, each individually named in a song repeated after each adventure.
There’s humour – particularly with Rosie’s objections over her footwear – but the richness lies in the connection between the physical links of the Dolls, overriding their individual differences in manner and appearance, and the security underlying mother and daughter (the destructive brother, as he becomes here, remains the embodiment of destruction all stories need).
This security flourishes after the Paper Dolls’ ending as Rosie grows-up to create a new set of Dolls for her daughter. With its sense of family across generations, adventures by sea and land, this could be a fine replacement, without the feyness and sinister aspects, for Peter Pan.
Mum/Tommy: Andrea Sadler.
Rosie: Jane Crawshaw.
Director: Peter Glanville.
Designer/Puppets: Lyndie Wright.
Lighting: David Duffy.
Music: Julian Butler.