Went with Lara and Vix to see Ian play Pinocchio at the Polka in Wimbledon.
It was a fun show, full of invention played out on a jumble sale of a set, which gave plenty of opportunity for theatrical play, hiding places, secret compartments and clever object theatre. Ian was charming, energised and rather brilliant in the title role. It's hard work to keep a young audience focused for over two hours, but the company did with clarity and enthusiastic storytelling - the kids seemed to have a brilliant time.
There are two dedicated children's theatres in London, here and The Unicorn and it must be a fascinating job creating a magic venue that will really inspire kids to want to see live entertainment. The Unicorn I always thinks suffers a little from it's setting and the amount of money invested in it. It feels like a mini National, great for socialising theatre going, but perhaps a bit imposing to be genuinely child friendly. Polka, with years of experience have done it really well in their red roofed shed of a building, with a cafe in the shape of a train, a rocket disappearing into the roof, dressing up boxes and rocking horses in the foyer. It's chaotic, colourful, imaginative and spacious. It rightly feels as if it belongs to the audience. Nobody is shoving you out of the door or herding you towards the gift shop, the adults sit on the edges of the spaces and let their children run around and play.
Ian had a huge head shot poster on the boards outside, which eclipsed even Lara's gargantuan picture outside Theatre503 before Christmas. They both seemed fairly nonchalant about the self-publicity... but Vix and I know better. It's War!