Butterflies review at Half Moon Theatre, London – ‘admirably ambitious children’s theatre’
There is much to admire in Tangled Feet and the Half Moon Theatre’s co-production for three-to-eight year olds.
Using the company’s trademark movement and visual theatre vocabulary, the production makes no compromises on content. It is a show about anxiety and it takes its audience on a rollercoaster ride of stormy seas, bottomless caves and deep dark woods.
The use of visual metaphor throughout the show is particularly refreshing in the world of children’s theatre – the butterflies of the title and knotted ropes to signify the central theme. This is done in a legible way for the target audience. My four and a half year old named the frequent use of background stage haze “the Spooky” – as if it was one of the characters.
The narrative is simple – three friends Marshall, Skipp and Holly travel together on a slightly abstract adventure consisting of a number of anxiety-making challenges to be overcome (being left alone, climbing, being in the dark, going to sleep).
The tone of their dialogue is often Beckettian – “We are here. Have we been here before? Let’s go” – and the characters often gaze at imagined scenes over our heads, which can at times be confusing.
Despite its highly commendable ambitions, however, there are two fundamental elements missing from Nathan Curry’s production: a reassuring rapport with the audience and a sufficiently uplifting pay off at the end.
The show takes its young audience to a lot of cold and dark places in the name of a worthy cause, but the thrills are few and far between.
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.