Applecart Arts have opened their virtual Dazed New World festival with a selection of short shows highlighting social injustice, inequality and issues of environmental concern.
Finding Percy Erebus is presented by Elephant Talk Theatre and concerns Phoebe’s magical travels with a mysterious briefcase. She is looking for Percy, who has “gone to a better place”.
With a startlingly original score by Sam MacDonald, clowning, puppetry, and different video and audio effects, a variety of settings and emotions are conjured up in this depiction of a child’s sense of loss and curiosity.
Elephant Talk Theatre makes pieces of work for children that addresses sensitive and difficult topics in an accessible way. In the character of Phoebe, a child viewer could empathise with the situation and understand “it’s OK to cry”.
I remember children’s TV programmes of the past taking a head-on approach to death (notably Sesame Street and Pipkins, over four decades ago), but this is a more nuanced and understanding approach.
This is a special piece of theatre, with movement, colour and music all adding to the magic of the setting. There is humour, too, as everyday objects take on new uses and gestures take on a different significance.
Filmed beautifully and with warmth and clarity, Finding Percy Erebus showcases three female performers (Helen Cox, Catherine Manwaring and Amelia Mehra), with lighting and sound by Susannah MacDonald.
Moments are occasionally Alice in Wonderland-ish, but that’s no bad thing, as the whole show is inventive, interesting and innovative. Young adults should appreciate the dance/movement and may see themselves in some of the quaint scenes which Phoebe experiences.
The Dazed New World festival runs until 24 October. For details visit Applecart Arts. Tickets can be purchased from £8 per show.
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