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Let’s Fly review at Little Angel Theatre, London – ‘playful dreaminess’

Let's Fly at the Little Angel Theatre, London. Photo: Ellie Kurttz

The Little Angel and Goblin Theatres’ collaboration this season is groundbreaking in several ways. For a start, it ditches the model of adapting well loved children’s prose, it re-invents the notion of adaptation itself, and offers not one but two new pieces to literally cover all ages.

Dan Rebellato’s play about growing up, Emily Rising – originally inspired by a Pogues’ song and aired on Radio 4 in 2001 – is in its puppet incarnation intended for ages seven upwards. But to make sure that no one misses out, this piece is accompanied by a spin off for all those aged seven and below.

Let’s Fly is a more baby-friendly version of Emily’s adventures featuring the same protagonist puppet, and as far as baby shows go, this one takes a cutting edge route. New research in theatre for early years (TEY) claims there is much more in store for the youngest audiences in non-narrative approaches to theatre-making, and this production is a good example. Gentle audience participation, attention to physical detail, an emphasis on the materials, colours and textures forming the world of the piece all serve to engage the audience in a journey that is often dream-like rather than suspenseful.

An ensemble consisting of cottonwool clouds, glove-like crabs, hungry monkeys and distant planets enhances Emily’s colourful journey, though the real star of the show turns out to be London itself. This might feel a little puzzling for the parents at times but, even in a preview performance, Samantha Lane’s imaginative directorial debut generated much excitement among the youngest viewers.

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Baby version of a play about growing up that captivates through playful dreaminess