Big Up! review at Unity Theatre, Liverpool – ‘a captivating experience’
Three years ago, Theatre-Rites and 20 Stories High collaborated on the raw and refreshingly original Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective.
Big Up! – being premiered at the Unity at the start of a UK tour – sees the companies marrying their complementary experimental theatremaking approaches once again, this time to create a charming and inventive sensory experience for very young audiences.
But while the 50-minute mash-up of physical theatre, puppetry, hip hop and music might be aimed at three to six-year-olds, it’s witty enough to appeal to audiences of all ages.
The first third in fact is wordless storytelling, the cast’s smiling mime accompanied by a panoply of expressive sounds from beatboxer Hobbit, the combination eliciting infectious giggles from the smallest theatregoers.
The action unfolds on a stage that is bare save for half a dozen equipment cases from which light, sound and even actors – a malleable Iestyn Evans, playing a hapless Frank Spencer character – emerge, creating shapes and developing ideas in a world where there appears to be no set rules of engagement.
Theatre-Rites’ trademark puppetry comes in a number of forms here, from simple foam shapes that the cast transforms magically and seamlessly into figures, animals, fish, houses and beating hearts, to a Morph-like neon outline figure, to an alien baby straight out of a 1970s Smash advert.
It all combines to create a captivating live theatre experience for little ones, and a reminder to the rest of us of how much fun there is to be had when you let your imagination run wild.
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.