Seen at Falkirk Town Hall
Playing Imaginate Festival (North Edinburgh Arts Centre), May 12-16,
then touring until July 4
Reviewed by Mark Brown
Hup, the new show by Starcatchers and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, is a delightful little production aimed at very young children, from babes in arms to two-year-olds . It features an endearing raccoon which is eager that its three guests, two violinists and cellist, be transformed to look like its stripy self.
Composer Abigail Sinar (who co-created the show with theatre-maker Hazel Darwin-Edwards) has created a beautifully simple musical score. It both reflects the action nicely and, in the CD which is gifted to every child, stands alone as a piece of chamber music for young ears.
Sadly, however, the show, which Karen Tennent has designed variably (lovely costumes, disappointing orange Perspex trees), is not well-pitched to everyone in its intended audience. Whilst it delights toddlers, who danced and, in one hilarious instance, conducted during the Falkirk performance I attended, it is difficult to see what it does for babies.
Theatre for children aged under 12 months is, as great practitioners such as London-based Oily Cart have proved, abundantly possible. What it requires is not only a benign environment, which Hup enjoys, but also an aesthetic which is both immersive and eschews narrative (which, of course, small babies’ brains have not yet developed to comprehend).
Despite its good intentions, Hup is still too traditional in playing to, rather than with, its audience. A tagged-on 15 minutes of interactive play at the end of the performance is almost an acknowledgement of this shortcoming.
For tour details, see: www.starcatchers.org.uk
This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on May 10, 2015
© Mark Brown