Theatre Review: There’s A Rabbit In The Moon @ Barbican

Being one of six adults in a roomful of five-year-olds was a new experience for us in reviewing a play, but we left the theatre as mesmerized as the children.

This enthralling, sixty-minute piece is full of magic and make-believe, of wonderful old objects, stars that appear out of pockets and trombones that are used to eavesdrop on bed-time stories. On arrival, the audience are invited to put on pyjama shirts and walk through a Narnia-esque wardrobe into the workshop of Thomas Snout, collector of ‘nights’. He presents his collection to the audience (eg. The Night of The Apple Pie and The Night Oscar Couldn’t Get to Sleep), and takes them through a dreamy exploration that sets the imagination of even the most pragmatic soaring.

Vélo Théâtre work with objects by bringing them alive on stage, and inviting the audience to share in this relationship. What’s most wonderful about this piece is how calm and collected it is throughout; there’s no need for loud voices, animation or the brash flashes and bangs that are commonly associated with children’s entertainment, to keep the kids engrossed. There’s a delightful use of sound, both verbal noises that the actor creates for the objects, and musical, from trumpets to bells to an old French song that Mr. Snout explains beautifully. All throughout, we are accompanied by gentle blinking lights, be it the yellow lamps around the room, the blanket of stars hanging in the wardrobe, or the tiny dolls-house that illuminates the shadows of its inmates.

This play is about confronting your fears, about entering a dark, strange room and facing whatever might come from within; there’s a heart-warming part at the end where Thomas Snout asks each child to put their fear in his trombone case, which he is going to bury for them (nothing’s quite so sweet as watching children name ‘bats’, ‘vampires’ and ‘polar bears’ as number one on their fear list). Magical, dreamy and imaginative, this is truly a perfectly-crafted piece of children’s theatre.

There’s a Rabbit in the Moon is in The Pit at Barbican until 21 February. Tickets £8.50 (adults and children). Shows at 11am and 1pm, no performance on Monday.

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