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Review: The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy Cat at Little Angel Theatre, Islington

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy Cat at Little Angel Theatre

By Kerry Law

A little corner of Islington has made way for pea-green boats, bong trees and runcible spoons…

As part of its Edward Lear season (the poet Lear being a former resident of the area), the Little Angel Theatre is running two puppet productions based on Lear’s ‘nonsense’ poems. ‘The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy Cat’, a ‘sequel’ to possibly his most famous poem, is based on the picture book by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Charlotte Voake.

 

 

The story picks up where Lear left off. We find our Owl and Pussy Cat enjoying marital bliss in the land where the bong tree grows. But it all turns sour when a crow steals their wedding ring, setting them off on a journey by sea and air encountering a host of intriguing ‘nonsense’ characters.

The set design by Kate Bunce is magical – all moonlight lanterns and deserted shores. The puppets, by Maia Kirkman-Richards, are cleverly designed in large and small versions and choreographed like Russian dolls with one set growing or shrinking into the other. Pulling the strings are the performers/puppeteers Cass Newby and Samuel Dutton who really bring warmth, joy and plenty of humour to the show, as well as joyful performances of all the original songs written for this production.

Gentle, enchanting and light-hearted, this telling of the loved-up Owl and Pussy Cat is recommended for 3 to 8 year olds. Younger viewers will enjoy the visual imagery but may not follow the story (although cautious theatre-goers can be assured, nothing scary happens!).

The other production in the theatre’s Lear season is for a slightly older audience – ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’, recommended for 7 years to adult, is described as a rich mix of references and tight choreography which conjures up an atmospheric world, enticing for adults as well as older children. Based on Lear’s classic poem, the story follows the shy and troubled Edward, whose life is turned upside down when the ‘Jumblies’ arrive. As an abstract exploration of the difficult transition between childhood and adulthood, ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’ may not be as easy to follow for younger children, although as a highly visual performance with little verbal language it can be enjoyed widely and is classed by the theatre as deaf-friendly.

 

 

Being accessible to all is important to the theatre and these shows include relaxed performances – particularly for those who would benefit from a more relaxed environment or are uncomfortable with sudden noises or lighting changes, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, sensory or communication needs, or a learning disability (check the website for dates/times).

Naturally, as a community-focused arts organisation, fundraising helps them continue their accessibility work, artistic and outreach programmes so beyond simply supporting them as a ticket-buying punter, you can also become a member (£48/year Standard; £72/year Plus) and receive 25% discount on tickets, 10% off refreshments and merchandise, and other perks as a Plus Member.

Parents looking for weekly activities beyond seeing the shows should check out the Saturday Puppet Clubs for 5-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds. Craft-loving kids get a chance to make their own puppets and put on a show at the end of each term. For this October half-term the theatre will host a series of Halloween-inspired workshops which are perfect for 6 to 11 year olds. These one-day workshops are £48 per child (£32 concessions).

‘The Further Adventures of the Owl and The Pussy Cat’ runs until 17th November; ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’ runs until 10th November.

Venue and ticket details: Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, London N1 2DN. Tickets are £13.50 (adults) and £11.50 (children and concessions); or book a ‘Friday Five’ when all tickets for 5pm performances on Fridays are £5.

For performance times and dates, ticket booking, upcoming shows and full details of all workshops and weekly clubs visit their website or call 020 7226 1787.

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