BELLA BARTOCK has been out again, this time accompanied by a responsible child to see Miki at the Ashcroft Theatre
The story of Inuit girl Miki, her friends Penguin and Polar Bear and Miki’s adventures below the sea ice as her friends fret about her safety is taken from the beautifully illustrated children’s book by Stephen Mackey.
The story has already been told by David Tennant on CBeebies, and this weekend it was brought to the stage at the Ashcroft Theatre at the Fairfield Halls.
It provided yet another demonstration of how the council’s role in the closing of the Warehouse Theatre and David Lean Cinema was short-sighted and ill-serves the borough’s arts provision: just as with so many of the “David Lean at the Fairfield” screenings, here you had a vast auditorium barely filled – with an audience of maybe 50 people in the 750-seat space.
With its use of puppetry, this was the sort of production which would have worked far better in the old Warehouse. Despite the cast’s best efforts, the large theatre was ill-suited for the intimacy of the Fresh Glory Production.
The puppets were just too small for use in Croydon’s Ashcroft, and some of the reflection of the gentle pastel shades of the original illustrations present in the production were lost in the auditorium’s vastness.
Nevertheless the young children present enjoyed the performance with many giggles and some sense of awe especially after characters became human scale.
While Amy Tweed was not always tuneful, the attractive and clever references to the original illustrations in the book were deft.
Thomas Gilbey’s calls as Penguin seemed a bit inane but both he and Nicola Blackwood were a delight in their interpretation of sea life below the ice.
The show was less than an hour long, so is an ideal introduction to live theatre for pre-schoolers and those of nursery school age, although accompanyng adults need to respect rules that insist in “no bad language, swearing, nudity, guns, computer games or texting”.
There may also be need for some interpretation to do on the various merits of sustainable energy sources.