Pros: A lovely, humorous, and clever show perfect for young audiences.
Cons: You might get a bit wet!
It’s a tough job to review theatre aimed at children aged 3 to 7 without some of your own, so I took along the closest thing I could find, my 9 year old daughter, to help me gauge the target audience. It was my first time at the very spacious, light and airy artsdepot. There was a terrific atmosphere as lots of parents and very young children queued to enter the comfortable studio theatre. It quickly became apparent that my guest was the oldest child in the audience, firmly establishing Rock Pool as a show for preschool aged kids.
This is the story of a prawn called Prawn and a crab named (you guessed it) Crab, who get uprooted from their seabed home and propelled by a stormy wave into a small rock pool. It’s a funny and tender tale of how they get to know each other, share their new surroundings and help each other survive the experience of being far from home. The characters are well-developed and beautifully presented by Lucinka Eisler and Giulla Innocenti; the relationship between them is touching and very relatable. I was impressed by the balanced elements of story telling, music and laughter, plus the well-controlled audience participation (no mean feat when playing to small people). Props were used cleverly, and stage direction and lighting evoked the changing environments the shellfish found themselves in. Visually subtle, but skilful staging tied all of the elements together. But enough about my grown up opinion – what did the younger members of the audience think?
My daughter enjoyed the show, although in her quest to be a ‘big girl’ she said it was a bit ‘babyish’ for her, making it perfect for the younger audience it is aimed at. The story appealed to her on several levels: the humour and gravity of their predicament was fun as well as engaging, plus the way the similarities and differences of the characters affected their friendship was not lost on her. The humour kept her laughing despite concerns about the fate of the two tiny creatures. She loved the clever costumes and the way the actors conjured things almost like magic, out of their garments. She thought the occasional appearance of the miniature crab and prawn was particularly important as it reminded us just what Crab and Prawn are, although the actors ‘pretended’ to be the creatures well. The songs delighted her and we both had the finale tune stuck in our heads for the rest of the afternoon. She thought it was great that the audience could feel part of the show (we were barnacles in the pool) but our participation added to the enjoyment without taking over the drama. She loved the surprisingly splashy final scene and left the theatre with a smile on her face.
She wasn’t alone in her enjoyment of this show. Looking around the audience, the children, however young, were attentive and responsive; there were smiles and cheers throughout the performance. Rock Pool is a lovely piece of theatre, so if you have young children in the Cbeebies set, get along and see it if you can. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on what’s on at the artsdepot as it’s a venue worth the visit.
Author: Ben Lewis
Director: Lucinka Eisler
Booking Until: This show has completed its run.
Box Office: 0208 369 5454
Booking Link: http://www.artsdepot.co.uk/whats-on