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My Friend Mole

This likeable piece for small spaces by Birdsnest Theatre piques the curiosity of young children, drawing them into a secret world of imaginative play.

The eponymous Mole being somewhat elusive, it’s up to narrator Geraldine Heaney to set the story in motion. With her warm, conspiratorial air, she’s a big sisterly presence, and her occasional forays into David Attenborough-style commentary are amusing.

The focus of everyone’s attention is the irresistibly hyperactive Tessa Parr as Wilder, who emerges explosively from an internally lit laundry bag – a fine way to symbolise her flight from a chaotic, noisy household – and proceeds to draw, using the roll of art paper slung about her back. She also succeeds in drawing the audience into her world.

Pacing the action with a continuous and assuredly synchronised soundscape is musician Mikey Kirkpatrick. His intriguing music corner presses a veritable kitchen cabinet of sound effects into service: vases, water jugs and bowls, as well as the more conventional flute, guitar and melodica.

Combined with the excitable flourishing of visual tricks – Wilder unearthing her bicycle or festooning herself with head torches and fairylights to combat night terrors – the music and narrative create an effect of constant music and light from the simplest of staging. It’s to Birdsnest’s great credit that it all flows so smoothly.

Dates: March 1 (PN), then touring until May 31

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Verdict
Well-modulated, perpetually in motion, theatrical playdate for the very young
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