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Icicle Bicycle review at Half Moon London

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Bella (Charlotte Arrowsmith) and Spike (Jai Vethamony) are lively, quarrelsome, thoughtful five year old twins being brought up by their tranquil, twinkling, enigmatic grandmother Nanna Baaba (Anna-Maria Nabirye).

Where is their mother? Eventually Nanna Baaba tries to explain, via an imaginative journey out of her beloved ‘safe’ garden into a wood where she conjures up a circus complete with beautiful puppets, a huge umbrella to represent the big top and fairy lights in Ruth Finn’s delightful designs. Is the children’s mother the trapeze artist, the clown or the trick cyclist in the sky?

If this is a tale about bereavement and loss – and I think it is – it’s sensitively done and very charming.

There is some fine acting in this play for two to six year olds too. Nabirye’s gentle dancing and strong warm diction is spot on for the role. Vethamony is one of the liveliest stage performers I’ve seen in a while. His capricious, vulnerable, funny Spike is very convincing. But the undoubted star of the show is Charlotte Arrowsmith whose impeccable timing, mime skills and stage presence are quite outstanding.

Like Half Moon’s 2006 show Igloo Hullabaloo, Icicle Bicycle is a bilingual piece – played in English and in British sign language. But the signing is grafted in not bolted on. Somewhere on stage one of the three characters is always signing with Arrowsmith – whose signing skills are highly refined – doing the most and not speaking. The signing is so graphic that, even for hearing members of the audience, it adds a whole new dimension and makes the meaning clearer.

Music by Bruce Nockles provides an atmospheric aural backdrop to this attractive show. Most young audience members will afterwards enjoy reading – or hearing and seeing – the accompanying story book (£4) beautifully illustrated by Ruth Finn.

Production Information

Half Moon, London, November 21-24, and touring until March 1

Chris Elwell
Half Moon Young People’s Theatre
Charlotte Arrowsmith, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Jai Vethamony
Running time

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