I love children’s theatre and have been taking my two (now 5 year olds) to enjoy a wide variety of the stuff since before they could walk, so this afternoon we were very happy to be heading to Liverpool’s Unity Theatre to watch “Big Up”.
Big Up is positioned as a mix of music and puppetry perfect for 3-6 years olds and their grown ups, where children of all ages will want to get up and dance in the aisles; and has a running time of just under an hour. It sounded like a fun, relaxed and hands on experience.
We arrived a little frazzled due to an annoying journey, but within seconds of the show starting even I felt relaxed and happy, due to the calm stage lighting and really uplifting music!
Occupying the stage were 4 great musicians and puppeteers, (Clarke Jopseh Edwards, Jack Hobbs, Lestyn Evans and Dorcas Sebuyange) using not much else really than their voices, bodies and a few mics to perform the original and varied music– although my little boy refused to believe that the beatbox style sounds were all from their mouths and not some invisible drums!
The puppets arrived continually throughout the performance and were varied and very creative, ranging from foam shapes that fitted together to make lots of different things; to a brilliant little guy who seemed to be made from cables and leads and who tight rope walked amongst other things; and finally a little “baby”, who emerged from one of the big cases on the stage and was undoubtedly the audiences favourite, with his charming face, cute sounds and abilities to keep the beat as well as his fellow performers!
There was enough audience participation to keep everyone engaged but without interrupting the flow of the piece and an opportunity to jump to your feet and dance at the end. The theatre was full this afternoon with a good cross section of ages and the show most certainly held the attention of everyone there.
So what was out verdict? Well I loved it! My children who were probably at the upper end of the target age group, were happily engrossed throughout and openly disappointed when it finished “so soon”, and whilst they decided it wasn’t as exciting as it could be (I am not sure when they suddenly needed plot twists and dramatic tension in everything) they were both animatedly discussing their favourite puppet for a good while afterwards. (Cute baby for M and tight-rope walker for O). There were also colouring sheets featuring the various puppets available in the foyer after the show and my two were both very keen to get stuck in – which is again usually a good testament that they have enjoyed it and they want to prolong the association. So all in all very positive!
Big Up continues at The Unity Theatre Liverpool, all next week at various times each day, with children’s tickets at £9 and a free adult ticket with each child. So if you have children under 5, whether they are theatre experts or newbies, I would say it was inspiring and engaging way to spend a happy hour or so.