Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“Brilliant fast-paced production... lightness of touch...Witty lines...highly physical storytelling"

At Theatr Clwyd

Theatr Clwyd, Paines Plough & the Orange Tree- How to Be a Kid , Roundabout @ Summerhall , August 12, 2017
At Theatr Clwyd by Theatr Clwyd, Paines Plough & the Orange Tree- How to Be a Kid Succession. It is a perennial challenge. Something works well. The leader goes and the incomer has to simultaneously build on success and be herself. It is not just the arts. It is after all the entire plot of “the Godfather” as much as it is “King Lear.” It runs throughout the seventy-nine hours of “the Sopranos.” When the incomer is the anointed heir, blessed by the outgoing CEO, the task is all the tougher, to both honour the past and to break with it. Those with political memory will recall the Premier of 1979-1990 who thought she had a pliant heir. Fury resulted in a successor who surprisingly became very much his own man.

From Downing Street to Mold. Theatr Clwyd is having a good Edinburgh, a very good one. Tamara Harvey has continued the tradition of very high quality productions from the canon, Tennessee Williams last year, Chekhov this year.

This three-way touring co-production schema is new and it is working well.

From edinburghfestivalsforkids *****

Molly is twelve, and being twelve is hard enough without negotiating life with a highly energetic and annoying linttle brother called Joe and a mum who spends the day in bed, feeling sad after Nan has died….and so super-girl is born. Super-girl can cook, can wash up, can look after Joe and get them both to school in time…super-girl can manage anything….until….

This brilliant fast-paced production deals with this challenging topic sensitively and looks at family relationships and what can happen when people can’t cope. Using the impressive space of the unique Roundabout venue we are taken along on the ‘serious’ adventure that Molly and her brother Joe go on….there are plenty of laughs along the way and a touch of dancing too with a catchy Taylor Swift pop soundtrack!

Acknowledging that family relationships are complicated and exposing our feelings is tricky, this dynamic performance takes you along on the highs and lows that life can throw at you, and it’s well worth the ride.

From the Scotsman

...three actors build an entire world before our eyes, purely through their talent and our imagination. We meet Molly, a 12-year-old girl who has just spent five weeks in care while her mother recovered in hospital; her little brother Joe, who is obsessed with dinosaurs and has enough physical energy to power every venue at the Fringe; and mum, who also doubles as Molly’s recently departed nan, her social worker and a variety of friends. There are serious life lessons to be learned in Sarah McDonald-Hughes’ new play, about the different ways people process grief, the resilience we’re capable of in times of adversity, and – most importantly – the need for families to talk openly about how they feel. All of which is delivered with a lightness of touch that ensures we never feel anything less than entertained. Witty lines punctuate the sadness, highly physical storytelling holds our attention, and strong acting ensures there’s no prospect of confusion.

From the List

It's difficult to imagine any play about such a serious and sad subject turning out half as fun as How to Be a Kid, but Sarah McDonald-Hughes' script owes its lightness of touch to the fact it never leaves the perspective of our little hero Molly. Katie Elin-Salt channels a wide-eyed but matter-of-fact exuberance into the character, dancing to Taylor Swift with a new friend at the care home, while Hasan Dixon's Joe is fun-loving and easily distracted, and Sally Messham's supporting cast includes the warm and encouraging spirit of Nan.

It's an action-packed, uplifting piece about the value of imagination and what makes a strong family, and its explanation of mental illness for a young audience is perfectly, sensitively pitched.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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