“It’s all gone wrong. Oh boo and foo and gloo!”
Only it didn’t go wrong at all. Boo and foo and gloo! is one of the lines from THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER a delight of a puppet show coming from the Little Angel Theatre and the RSC. I watched the play with two young children in the Studio at Harrogate Theatre last Friday and heard the line chanted over and over again over the following days.
|"Isabella flying "puppet|
The Magician’s Daughter was a perfect example of show for young children. Written by Michael Rosen and inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, the two "human" roles are those of the young Isabella and her mother Miranda - Prospero’s daughter - and their world is being spoiled by rainstorms.
The plot is suitably simple. Helped by a magical book from her grandfather’s old wooden chest, Isabella flies by night to a magical Isle so she can re-unite the two halves of Prospero’s broken staff, using the magic to stop the everlasting rain. On the Isle she meets the two main puppet characters: the elegant, mocking Ariel living among branches full of fruit and the slow, angry greenish-coloured Caliban searching for truffles down on the ground. Isabella tries to help the two squabbling inhabitants make peace.
Small children, especially those likely to be unfamiliar with real-world puppets, were drawn into the story carefully. The show began with the sounds of stormy weather, and the two actors huddled under an umbrella singing a simple joining-in kind of song: “Drip drop! Will it never stop?” and then Clare Rebekkah Pointing’s portrayal of young Isabella, totally fed up with the rain. The puppets were gradually introduced. First came the early shadow puppets seen through the "window", and then by the flying “Isabella puppet” being flown in her dream by the real Isabella, both dressed in identical nightgowns.
|Ariel and Caliban|
The performance was advertised as being from “three upwards” so the audience was very much family-based. My borrowed five-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl were kept fully involved by the layers and variety within the play and everyone around there seemed to be enjoying it too. I even saw a couple of sullen pre-teens nearby smiling in the darkness.
My final point of praise goes to the script, which was written by Michael Rosen and whose voice is heard narrating the introduction. The script not only "tells the story" , but is enriched throughout by a whole range of language; it also contains occasional lyrical lines from “The Tempest”, a scattering of lively Italian expressions, and plenty of the rhyming, repeated child-friendly word play that came home with us afterwards. Much loved was Caliban’s attempts at the name Isabella – Ellabella! Izzybelly! – along with the now famous family saying “Oh boo and foo and gloo!”.
The Magicians Daughter is a gem of a puppet play - better and more magical than the video on the Little Angel website suggests. It was wonderfully worked by the actors and puppeteers - congratulations to all of you! - and was an experience that stays in the mind and on the tongue. Better still, The Magician's Daughter is still on tour a while longer!
ps. The Little Angel Company has two shows on at its home, the Little Angel Puppet Theatre in Islington, London. Just right for the winter season.
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