Get our free email newsletter with just one click

How to be a Kid review at Theatr Clwyd, Mold – ‘warm-hearted and insightful’

Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham and Katie Elin-Salt in How To Be A Kid at Theatr Clwyd. Photo: Matt Humphrey Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham and Katie Elin-Salt in How To Be A Kid at Theatr Clwyd. Photo: Matt Humphrey
by -

Sarah McDonald-Hughes’ play makes for an impressive opener to Paines Plough’s fourth annual season for its perky, pop-up Roundabout theatre.

The first of three premieres playing in rep throughout the season, How to be a Kid is an insightful drama about children growing up too young and forced to take charge when their mum has an emotional crisis.

As 12-year-old Molly explains, home doesn’t feel like home any more. When she’s taken into care with baby brother Joe, the two kids are in danger of losing their childhoods.

On one level, McDonald-Hughes’ play is a heart-tugging exploration of childhood trauma and resilience. But there are also elements of magical babes-in-the-woods adventure – only these babes love burgers and dancing to Taylor Swift. In the end they are symbolically saved from the impending collapse of their family by the healing maternal powers of their deceased Nan – and an old jalopy called Vera.

As a right-of-passage journey, the play sometimes loses its way. It’s never really explained why Molly’s dad left home and her mum’s sudden reversal to emotional normality strikes a slightly jarring note. But why quibble when James Grieve’s fluid staging – no props, just atmospheric lighting and soundtrack – and persuasive performances by adult actors Katie Elin-Salt as Molly, Hasan Dixon as fidgety little Joe, and Sally Messham as Molly’s care home soulmate, combine to make child’s play feel utterly convincing.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Warm-hearted right-of-passage play kick starts Paines Plough’s annual Roundabout season