Our local Charlton-based dance company, Greenwich Dance will be broadcasting four ‘TV episodes’ featuring brand new dance works performed by professional dancers and local volunteers and interviews with choreographers from next week.
With the Covid-19 quarantine only eased slightly, cinemas and theatres are still no-go zones. Bummer. There’s talk that they might re-open in August or after summer however this will be dependent on government advice. We miss the theatre – last time we went was when I took Little Miss to go and watch Alice’s Adventures Underground at the Royal Opera House.
Greenwich Dance has kindly taken it upon themselves to create an at-home experience for us. They’ve re-imagined Up My Street – Showtime! – a borough-wide project designed to tackle cultural inequality and loneliness, into Up My Street – Online!
If you’ve been talking to your children about all the events that have been going on at the moment regarding BLM and its movement or haven’t yet found a way to discuss it then this may be one way to get the conversation started.
Beginning on Thursday 25 June, the four TV-style episodes featuring brand-new short dance works, interviews with choreographers and excerpts from their eclectic back catalogues, (plus an invitation to get moving) will be screened via the organisation’s YouTube channel. More details can be found on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/greenwichdance/
Greenwich Dance has commissioned four choreographers, (Zoie Golding, Mathieu Geffré, Temujin Gill and Sarah Blanc) to each create a brand-new piece of dance for the camera, made entirely within lockdown restrictions. Edited by award-winning film-maker Roswitha Chesher, each piece will be screened within in its own magazine-style episode which will be hosted by Blanc, also a comedienne and performer.
Greenwich Dance’s CEO, Melanie Precious says:
“Up My Street was designed to bring dance to parts of the borough at risk of being overlooked. It was about putting a social event right into the heart of people’s communities. When Covid19 hit we got together with our four choreographers and filmmaker to work out how we could offer those same communities some of what the original promised. Up My Street – Online! is what we have come up with…”
This is the first-time experience for the Greenwich Dance company too so it’ll be interesting to see how they manage filming and performing in this kind of way. If they manage to pull it off well, this could be something they could look into in terms of reaching more people through online performances. An intimate e-theatre experience, if you like!
I wish I could tell you half of the things. Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase ‘Let’s pretend.‘
– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass House’
How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.
I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?
A cheeky selfie before the show starts
The spectacular view of the ROH auditorium
We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.
My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground
This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom
All of the cast above also played various other roles.
A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.
There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”
The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.
It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂
For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!
So you want to hear a story?
Yrots a raeh ot tnaw uoy os?
Last week we were invited along to attend a showing of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House. As the show was suitable for children aged 6+ I was allowed to bring a plus one and naturally, I took Little Man with me. We don’t go to the theatre regularly and normally when we do go, it’s usually to our local Greenwich Theatre (which is fantastic for families!) so going to a fancy one like the Royal Opera House, I had to make sure my little monster was going to be on his best behaviour.
We attended the evening performance (7.15PM) but there are days when a matinee performance is showing. We made our way from North Greenwich to Covent Garden easily and just missed the rush hour period as we set off around 5PM. When we arrived at the Royal Opera House, we were ‘greeted’ by the doorman (they just opened the door, no smiles and we were the first to initiate the actual greeting, but hey ho) who showed us the way to the reception desk. Looking around I could see why we were not as warmly welcomed as we would be at our little Greenwich Theatre. The majority of the ROH attendees are mostly older, mostly middle-class and attended without children. A totally different demographic than what we’re used to seeing.
As we headed downstairs to the Linbury Theatre, it was a little less intimidating as we saw more families and young children. Little Man didn’t notice anything but as a parent, I feel like the theatre should be a more welcoming place for those with young children. Perhaps if we had attended a matinee performance it would’ve probably felt less judging as we usually associate evening shows with adult guests rather than young families.
As we were a little early, we decided to head back up and have a look around the small gift shop. We bought a laser-light keyring and a ballet pump keyring for Little Miss. We then headed back downstairs to the cafe outside the Linbury Theatre and had a hot chocolate and a brownie which satisfied our sweet craving.
What is The Lost Thing?
The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. It became one of his bestselling books worldwide and well-recognised in the literature world. The story is about a boy who discovers ‘The Thing’ which doesn’t seem to belong to anything in particular, making it ‘lost’. In the book, The Thing looks very mechanical and is orange-red with greenish metal claws and legs whereas in the theatre production, it’s more organic and living with a green, moss-like body and ever-changing number of legs.
In this theatrical adaptation by Ben Wright and Jules Maxwell (from Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company) we are treated to a different kind of storytelling; one that’s filled with not only music but also theatrical singing, opera and dance along the way. ‘Mixing it up’ is definitely a good way of exposing children of this new generation to a variety of performing arts.
Review: The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House
Despite the lukewarm review of the show being “too static and slow” from The Guardian online, I much agree with the reviews from Culture Whisper and British Theatre Guide. The performance was pleasantly executed, and provided both children and adults with some true thought-provoking moments. In the programme booklet they gave me, it mentions that The Thing in the performance is not meant to replicate Tan’s illustration but instead, represents something living and organic. The Thing can shape-shift changing from two legs to eight legs, growing larger or smaller depending on its mood.
“We wanted to take it in a completely different direction and build on the skeleton of the story, which is about celebrating difference, supporting what is lost, and potentially contemplating what we are losing. We decided to shift the nature of The Thing itself to be this odd, biodiverse, many-limbed organism…“ Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
I can understand why there may be some disappointment as to why the original story was never followed through completely but then again, adapting a picture book into an opera/theatrical performance is not ordinary neither. The story lines is minimal but I think that makes it easy for children to understand. There’s also surtitles and audio description for those hard of hearing. The diverse cast are fantastic – all extremely talents and a good mix of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, musicians, singers.
I thought the interpretation of The Thing as something organic and living, familiar yet somehow forgotten, was like a metaphorical example of the world we live in today. There is a scene where The Boy almost hands The Thing over to the odds and ends department, but then a janitor appears and strongly advises against it, saying that things left there get permanently forgotten. We then see the janitor being comforted by The Thing and feeling happy that it’s in his presence. It reminded me of how happy and content we once were to just enjoy simple things ie. nature but now we’re constantly fixated on our phones and devices.
“In the book, the denouement is that it finds a place where it belongs. In our version that place is a very saturated, green, mossy jungle…” Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
Summary: my thoughts on The Lost Thing
Little Man loved the performance and has asked to go back to watch The Thing come to life again. We will aim to go before the new year. He also lost his thing (a small toy) there at the theatre, which has now become his ‘lost thing’ – now isn’t that a story within a story for you?
I loved the story so much that I ordered the picture book online for Little Man, he instantly recognised the book from the ochre colour scheme and enjoyed reading it however he told me that he much prefers the ending that he saw in the opera adaptation.
The Lost Thing is showing until January 4th 2020 and tickets are between £7.00-£35.00 for a seat, how can you resist a familiar yet story?
You can watch the video of Shaun Tan’s story here:
P I N T H I S P O S T
[AD] We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House in exchange for this review post. All opinions and content are in my own words and photos that have been used are credited to their sources respectively.
2. Rufus Longbottom & The Space Rabbit at Greenwich Theatre
Rufus Longbottom is a grouchy old man who lives in a care home and despises contact with other people. He loves watching his telly and does nothing else until one day he comes across a big yellow rabbit from outer space. A show filled with marvellous adventures, song, dance and interaction with the audience. I’m a big fan of small productions that are interactive and immersive. You’ll not be disappointed!
3. The Elves and the Shoemaker at Greenwich Theatre
You’ll meet Mr Cobbler and his wife, who are struggling to afford the leather for him to make any shoes to sell. But could their fortune change? A beautiful retelling of a classical children’s fairytale featuring all of the original songs from the story.
David McKee’s iconic picture book, “Not now, Bernard” is a story that’s been loved by many children and adults for the last thirty years. The show will be vividly brought to life in this brand new adaptation.
5. The Tiger Who Came To Tea at Piccadilly Theatre
A musical play adapted and directed by David Wood. Based on the book by Judith Kerr, this classic children’s book comes to life. The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big, stripy tiger!
This captivating and beautiful new story from best-selling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Rebecca Cobb springs to life with rhyme, original music and delightfully expressive puppets in Polka’s fun and exciting stage adaptation.
Expect lots of surprises and beautiful images as Patrick Lynch (from Cbeebies) tells the gripping story of Jack who sells his cow for five magic beans and finds himself in the land above the clouds. It’s a show with something for everyone.
Greenwich Theatre proudly presents this dynamic adaptation of “The Jungle Book”, bringing Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale to the stage with thrilling percussion, vibrant puppetry and Kipling’s unforgettable, larger-than-life characters.
Join in this adaptation from Michael Rosen’s fantastic book, “We’re going on a bear hunt” and follow the family’s adventures with their musical dog on a quest to find a bear. As they wade through the gigantic swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud! Expect catchy songs, interactive scenes and plenty of hands-on adventure!
The last two people in the World… Find the last book in the World… And it’s a book all about something called ‘Christmas’…
The performance focuses on the two characters, Trilby and The Boot (who are great actors and hilarious!) in an apocalyptic style setting. Surrounded by nothing more than debris and odd household bits and bobs, the two take us on an interactive but intimate performance which was thrilling and super funny to watch.
After we checked in to the theatre, we were shown the way to a small black tent and was told we were to enter through this way. I thought it was a joke at first but it wasn’t – lucky for me I am short so it was easy getting through but I did get stuck on the other side getting out! I guess for nimble children it’s much easier but I loved the quirky first impression. We were able to choose our seats and decided to get front-row seats. It was really nice and close – so close that we could also touch the actors!
I took both LO and Baby Girl with me this time and not sure if I was making a mistake in doing so but she was really well-behaved (until towards the last 20 mins of the show) when we sat down. Before the start of the performance, there is an interactive craft workshop that’s put on for the kids to get involved in making the props for the show (which also gets used in the show too!). As we came when the performance started, we had missed this workshop which was a shame as I think LO would’ve liked to make something that he’d known would be used during the performance.
Trilby and Boot don’t speak English – they have their own alien language which ironically you can work out what’s being said through some of the words said, the actor’s actions and body language. The gestures, sounds and expressions that the actors use outweigh the baby-babble. It just goes to show that we don’t have to understand words in order to understand what’s being said.
Everybody was laughing and was really enjoying the performance. My plus one said she really enjoyed the show and I think the kids had a whale of a time! For me, Baby Girl started to get restless in the last 20mins so I had to stand up with her at the back of the room. The staff were super accommodating and understanding. The production team is very small but they made everything really seamless from the lighting to the music to looking after the audience.
Snow-pocalypse is shown in the studio and not the main theatre room, it’s a much smaller and intimate atmosphere which was lovely and works really well with the interactive performance. Don’t be surprised if Trilby or Boot ask you to snap a photo or for them! 🙂
Here are some of the photos we took of the kids at the end of the performance with the snow machine. Look at LO’s hair!! It looked crazy but he didn’t mind. He loved it actually. We all did.
Well done SharkLegs for coming up with such a fantastically interactive production and thank you Greenwich Theatre for putting it on show. We thoroughly enjoyed watching it!
NB. We were given tickets to watch Snow-Pocalypse at Greenwich Theatre. All words, opinions and content are my own except for the press images which were supplied to me, courtesy of Sharklegs & Greenwich Theatre.
The Hunting of the Snark is heading to Greenwich Theatre on Sunday 24th September following a West End run this summer. The production is based on Lewis Carroll’s poem and follows a ragtag gang of bold adventurers as they set off on a quest to catch the mythical Snark.
The show is suitable for children from ages 4+ and will start on Sunday at 14:00 and is said to be a great one so don’t miss out, there’s still tickets available. If you are in Greenwich and looking for something to do with the family, treat them to a fun day out to the theatre. LO loves the theatre and we are always looking for our next show to go and watch.
If you’re too eager to see what the performance will entail, I can grant you a sneaky peek… just take a look below, taken from the cast’s press performance of the show:
“Side-splittingly funny, joyful, fast-paced and bursting with a soundtrack of witty songs by an award-winning songwriter, The Hunting of the Snark is a tour de force that‘ll delight, excite and entertain…” – Snark Productions
The show looks amazing. I’m really sad that I won’t be able to take LO to go and see it because the photos above have really got me intrigued to see how the whole show pans out. Just look at all those bright colours and that man in the crazy ruffle costume is sure to get some laughs from the audience. I think this show is going to be one that both the kids and parents will enjoy, expect to laugh hard and often! 🙂
After the one-day performance at Greenwich Theatre the show will be moving around the UK as part of its national UK tour which is set to end mid-November.
There’s only 6 more weekends until Christmas.
(I can’t believe it!)
There is actually so much available you are really spoilt for choice this year. If you are planning to go somewhere local, the Greenwich area has a whole range of festivities on offer from Christmas markets and fayres to meet-and-greet Santa moments.
If you want to do something a bit different, why not take the family to see a play or panto? Here are some of my favourite shows that I think would be great with the whole family and I’ve even found shows that are ideal for little tots.
I keep seeing posters for this show at LO’s nursery and it looks fantastic. It’s a pantomime take on the classic tale by Andrew Pollard who’s celebrating 10 years of Panto at the Greenwich Theatre this year. The show is recommended to children of all ages.
Featuring characters from Frozen, Toy Story, The Little Mermaid and many more. Join thousands of others in experiencing a fantastic show on ice with special effects and even high-speed stunts to thrill and surprise the whole family. I’m sure even the adults will enjoy this show.
And for the little ones…
(7 Dec – 3 Jan 2016)
Venue: Albany Theatre
Aimed at the younger crowd (children aged 2+), this wonderful winter story is about a young girl called Tilly who wakes up to find a snowy, white bear in her bedroom. Alongside the story-telling will also be music and puppetry to keep the little ones entertained.
This lovely show is based on the book written by Polly Dunbar who is one of my favourite children’s authors. Flyaway Katie is about a girl who is feeling quite sad and lonely but manages to cheer herself up by putting on brightly coloured clothes then something really magical happens. The play is suitable for children from ages 2+.