Underbelly’s Circus Hub (Venue 360)
12.30pm and 2.30pm
Aug 6-14, 16-22
This is a fabulous family show. I can’t wait to take my niece and I would recommend this to anyone with a wee person! This magical production brings together circus, theatre, dance and projections skilfully performed by Upswing addressing the not too unusual dynamics felt between daydreaming children and their overstretched parents. It was a daunting wait in the long queue outside the venue as I saw hoards of excited children waiting to see ‘Bedtime Stories’, along with me! I had fears of unsettled wee people losing their concentration after 5 minutes of sitting through a show. However, after stepping into the venue I felt transported into a tranquil and magical space. The simple set of a bed and a desk was encircled by beanbags, comfy beds, pillows and blankets (and a few rows of chairs for those who weren’t lucky enough to get a ‘bed’ for story time!
This was quite a sight to behold as calm, excited children of all ages looked around at lights and projections before the show started. It seemed the whole audience were ready for their pre-nap entertainment! The energy grew slowly as the two central characters (mum and daughter) built their individual presences with an impressive yet simple animation projected on a central pillar of screens. The audience was very engaged by this display and it had a fairly hypnotic effect on me as a watcher! This was followed by the first dialogue of the show – the story telling! The dialogue felt well written for the target audience of kids and had enough content to keep the adults involved. My only sticking point in the whole show was the lack of amplification during dialogues. Due to an air conditioning unit, there was a background hum that made hearing some of the dialogue and the singing a bit tricky but the performers adapted to this as the show progressed.
We were taken on an adventure through the imagination of a little girl searching for a connection back to her busy mum, involving impressive floor work and ribbon trapeze, which was simply breathtaking. A key relationship was fleshed out between the daughter and her imaginary friend ‘Three’. His character was beautifully engaging for the young audience and their rapport was touching and fun to watch.
The best way to review this show was from watching the faces of the young audience members, their concentration rarely wavered throughout this whole hour performance – the age range was new born to 10 years with the average child between 4 and 7. They laughed, engaged and were inspired by the movement. This was a scene to behold. This was not to be ignored after the show finished with many of them helping to clear up the space and then continuing to twirl and jump around the outside space of the Circus Hub, with a new physical awareness and sense of adventure, with many parents appearing engaged too in playing with them in this way. I feel the repercussions of seeing this show may be long lasting. A mesmerising adventure for children of ages!
Reviewer : Ali Bell