Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town, and for 50 thrilling minutes you and your child are guaranteed the Little Angel Theatre’s finest musical, magical puppet performance in The Singing Mermaid.
Adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk, this is the story of a talented, golden-haired mermaid who loves to sing, but is tricked into leaving her seaside home to join the circus, where she becomes trapped. She relies on help from her friends to make her exciting escape.
Aimed at 3 – 8-year-olds, it is paced to perfection by director Samantha Lane. The audience has plenty of time to really get immersed as each delightful scene unfolds. It takes the brief picture book and extends every moment, allowing us to fully enjoy the senses of the sea, the razzle dazzle and excitement of the circus, and the thrill of an escape plan.
The tiny theatre is decked out as a fabulous circus tent, with bunting and lights across the ceiling. When the performers arrive, the audience is warmed up with clapping and cheering, testing their silliest laughs. Indeed, there’s lots of opportunity for participation throughout, and our audience were excited to get involved; joining in with the dastardly Sam Sly as he counts his ill-gotten gains, applauding the amazing circus acts, and simply giggling wildly at the wiggly fish, which – along with the jellyfish – are genuinely brilliant.
As you might expect at the Little Angel, Lyndie Wright’s puppets are beautifully made and colourful, really bringing the essence of the book off the page and into the living, breathing space. They swim and sing, fly and peck; some even breathe fire and walk the tightrope. And there are so many of them! The three-strong cast of Lizzie Wort, Gilbert Taylor and Heidi Goldsmith operate all with care and are impressively multi-talented, balancing skilful puppetry, harmonised singing and physical performance with ease and energy. Taylor, as the sneaky Sam, has the audience in the palm of his hand as he performs simple magic tricks and illusions, and then laughing uproariously as he is finally seen off by a seagull pecking his bum.
The rhythmic, poetic text of Donaldson’s book is enhanced by a series of varied and delightful songs from Barb Jungr, which create a lovely texture across the scenes – soothing us at the seaside and later thrilling us as the mermaid attempts her escape. Additionally, clever lighting design by Sherry Coenen brings drama and atmosphere to the puppet performances, adding to the excitement.
With enthusiasm, style and imagination, the show tells a really simple story – that money can’t buy you the important things in life. But it’s a totally sparkling, fun production, with a great cast, a message of friendship and a seagull friend you will want to take home with you.
Original book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk
Adapted by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane
Music and Lyrics by Barb Jungr
Directed by Samantha Lane
Set & Costume designed by Laura McEwen
Puppets Designed by Lyndie Wright
Lighting Design by Sherry Coenen
The Singing Mermaid is on at the Little Angel Theatre until 24 April. Further information and bookings via the below link.