The Emperor’s New Clothes

Christmas is almost upon us, it’s a sneaky one isn’t it, where has 2016 gone?! But amongst the mince pies and the pigs in blankets, the Sherman have their double helpings of Christmas magic on offer once again and yesterday it was time for Alun Saunders’, The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The Hans Christian Anderson classic has been brought to life by the Sherman and Theatr Iolo and has taken over the studio space as clothes hang from the balcony and the stairs.  The setting is instantly very informal and interactive as the three actors encourage the children to sit on the mats near the front and talk to them as the audience enters the space.  

The story revolves around Kare and his life growing up to be an Emperor and having responsibillywhatsits and from his first yells and bursts of funny faces, the young audience members are roaring with laughter. As the three actors switch between songs, dialogue and musical instruments, the story comes to life and a little bit of imagination is in order as the minimal set design is injected with joy and new threads! 

With no pouting or pwdi’s in sight, Kare soon learns that his parents were right all along and that you must always laugh at yourself (or somebody else will do it fo you!) Ending with a lovely rendition of the title song, the young and young at heart are reminded that sometimes all it takes is a good chuckle and a bit of silliness.  The Emperors New Clothes is a wonderful delight of a Christmas show for 3-6 year olds. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes | Sherman Theatre and Theatr Iolo | At the Sherman until 31st December 

The Princess and the Pea

Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and pots and pans scattered the floor, as audience members filled up the studio at the Sherman for this years festive offering for 3-6 year olds – The Princess and the Pea.  A joint production from Theatr Iolo and Sherman Cymru, the three cast members were instantly engaged with the little ones brave enough to sit on the mats at the front and the music allowed both parents and children to relax around the stage area.

The Hans-Christian Anderson fairy-tale soon takes over the studio space, all be-it at a slow pace to begin with – although this didn’t seem to disinterest the younger audience members in the slightest.  The Prince is only interested in finding a Princess to marry, much to the Queen’s dismay and the two meet various potential suitors in order to make him happy.  As the rain falls on the old castle roof, the repetitive raindrops created mini musical interludes and the Sherman roof could well have been actually leaking!

The real sparkle comes when the unconventional Princess arrives, and as she chases, and plays, and makes the Prince laugh, the Queen decides to put her to the test to see if she actually is a real Princess.  Ceri Elen is brilliant as she takes over the space and the clever lighting design really emphasises the castle feel and changes in the weather.

A tale full of mis-used mash potato, a mattress or 20 and a lot of pans full of rain, the performance was enchanting for the younger audience members, although I felt it was missing a certain chaos or noisy interaction.  The Sherman studio space is full of magic and this gentle fairy-tale is a great treat for young families this Christmas.

Nadolig Llawen! The Princess and the Pea is on until the 2nd January 2016. More information and show times can be seen here.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, cowgirls and cowboys…!

A family show with a difference, this Wild West treat from West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Egg, MAC Belfast and Theatr Iolo showcased something for everyone. On the Welsh leg of its tour, Little Sure Shot took over the Richard Burton Theatre this week at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The story of Annie Oakley is one not many people are familiar with, but this brilliant story telling takes us on the journey with frightened and alone young Annie who has lost her father, to the standing ovations for the shooting star of the show. The Moses family are experiencing some bad times, and it is down to Annie’s shooting talent and big dreams which take her around the country and show the world that girls have just as much hard work and oomph behind them as any boy! Cleverly switching tone between scenes, the cast aptly move between light hearted clowning, country dance moves and touching solo moments highlighted by a stunning lighting design.

Verity Clark is brilliant as the title role and the ensemble of actor-musicians work seamlessly to entwine dancing, comic timing and song amongst the well written script. Set against a beautiful and cleverly designed stage and combined with a brilliant soundtrack from Lucy Rivers, this musical retelling is enchanting, good fun and full of the soul of the Wild West. The voices of the ensemble are enough to brighten any day and the

A brilliant tale full of determination, heart and spirit: Little Sure Shot is a heart warming and gutsy performance which has something for cowboys and cowgirls of any age! One to watch out for, for definite!

This is my box…

and this is my stick. Ordinary objects to you and I, but for this forty minutes they could be anything you dreamed they could be. Theatr Iolo are back with another delight of a production as Boxy and Sticky take over Chapter’s studio this Easter. 

Full of mischief and charm the pair take to the beautifully lit set, ready to take on an audience full of three to five year olds and their parents as their imagination is let loose. Boxy emerges from his box after getting himself well and truly stuck, whilst Sticky uses her newly found stick to turn Boxy into a variety of characters; ranging from a monkey to a squashed tomato! Creating a chortling, giggling response from the younger audience members, the two performers worked effortlessly together, mimicking each other’s actions and words to create a whole new world of fun.

Backed by a wonderfully calming soundtrack and design, director Sarah Argent has created yet another diamond theatre experience, mesmerising and entertaining not only the little ones but also the more grown up, not so little members of the audience! Chortling and laughter really is infectious and this show is a charming and mischievous treat not to missed out on!

Boxy and Sticky plays at Chapter Arts Centre this week: head to their website here for tickets and more details.

If only Rosa could do magic

Greeted by an audience of giggling and screaming families, a vision in pink cycled on to the studio stage at Chapter Arts Centre to enchant, amuse and entertain this half term! Presented by Theatr Iolo and brought to Cardiff following her success at the Imaginate festival by Norwegian performer Katja Brita Lindeberg, If only Rosa could do magic is full of charm and laughter!

Rosa has everything a little girl could ask for: beautiful pink dresses, a crown fit for a princess, lovely pink toys, a pink bicycle and of course, a wand. But her parents are always busy or away with work, and she has no friends to share her lovely things with so she creates her own world of Princesses and frogs and peppers which turn into fathers with a bit of help, hard work and a few magic words. With some very helpful audience participation, Rosa creates the world of her dreams but maybe needs to work on walking in heels… don’t worry Rosa, it happens to the best of us!

Katja has the audience involved from the word go and has a brilliant stage presence as she shows off her toys and tries to bring a little magic and sparkle into her life. One dad from the front row made a brilliant and endearing attempt to become the King and Father she hoped for so much and the audience rendition of ‘Twinkle Winkle’ to send Rosa to sleep was beautiful to listen to after laughing so much.

A pure afternoon delight, with an enchanting performance from Rosa herself, who had audience members big and small in fits of laughter! Full of charm and sparkle, Katja Brita Lindeberg is one to watch out for in the future for sure!

Parti yn llawn tryblith!

As much as I try and join in conversations in work, my Welsh isn’t great…. But I do try! And I was very proud of how much I understood of Theatr Iolo’s latest production this morning! At Chapter Arts Centre this week, Penblwydd Poenus Pete is full of laughs and chaos from start to finish.

With an audience full of incredibly excited school children, the studio at Chapter has been transformed into a family home and we are soon welcomed in to their lives. The initial introduction of hyperactive feline, Cadi, has the audience intrigued from the first dimming of the lights and the mess and family chaos soon unravels. When Dad decides he doesn’t want a fuss for his birthday, Mum and the twins do exactly that… Nothing… Of course, Pete is furious and with his feline sidekick, the peace is soon shattered with hilarious results!

Full of giggles, walking the plank, a huge mess and even a cream pie to the face… This production is pitched brilliantly to it’s family audience! The cast bounce off each other brilliantly, replicating the dynamics of any loving everyday family, and Meilir Rhys Williams portrayed Cadi with brilliant character, leaping and prowling around the set and purring in his sleep!

Even as a very basic Welsh Learner, I was definitely able to understand the gist of the story: much to my delight! A fun filled production for all the family, a real feel good performance from the creatives at Theatr Iolo once again: Llongyfarchiadau a diolch pawb!

Penblwydd Poenus Pete plays at Chapter Arts Centre this week until the 12th July and continues on it’s tour into August. For full dates and to book tickets, check out the Theatr Iolo website.

A toyshop with a difference

Don’t be deceived by the child-like title, The Magic Toyshop is definitely not one for the children! Angela Carter’s tale is indeed a twisted fantasy and this co-production from Theatr Iolo and Invisible Ink grabs the audience from their first steps into the studio at Chapter Arts Centre.

Melanie’s world is flipped upside down when her family are killed in a tragic accident and she is sent away from her cushty home, to live with her Uncle Phillip in London. However, it soon becomes clear that she is not destined to be part of a ‘normal’ family set up, after her initial meeting with mute Auntie Maggie and a strained family breakfast. With secrets, deceit and mystery surrounding the toyshop, all is not as it seems as toymaker, Phillip, not only controls his puppets by their strings, but also his family members and Melanie soon becomes a living doll in his mini performances.

The stage is cleverly designed and split to showcase a puppet theatre and the family home and toyshop, with dramatic lighting to highlight the alluring and intense performances from the five person cast. Despite a slightly cluttered and confusing narrative, the nightmare-esque fairy tale is gripping, if a little disturbing and Invisible Ink are definitely a company to look out for in the future.

The Magic Toyshop plays at Chapter Arts centre until Saturday 17th May. For more information, check out the Chapter website.