Stage, Theatre & TV13th February 2016

Five star performance from PaddleBoat and Exeter Deaf Academy

Accessible Theatre provides lovely family entertainment

by Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education

Theatre review - A Little Man’s Holiday, Exeter Phoenix Theatre *****

How many shows have you been to and felt engrossed in the performance? Like you were fully immersed in the experience? PaddleBoat Theatre Company’s production of “A Little Man’s Holiday” takes the audience on a sensory pirate adventure of light up jellyfish, origami seagulls and paper cannonballs. This enriched production has been made accessible to all children and families, telling a special, vibrant and sensory story using clever puppetry, interaction, a set that can be touched and explored, characters the audience can meet and a completely relaxed attitude to noise in the auditorium.

More impressive is that this show has a sign supported script thanks to the help of a group of talented Year 7, 8 and 9 students from Exeter Deaf Academy. During rehearsals, PaddleBoat joined Exeter Deaf Academy’s Expressive Arts classes, where they improvised scenes with the pupils to creatively adapt the play with visual jokes, loud sound effects and British Sign Language (BSL).

Deaf Academy students then took to the stage at Exeter Phoenix Theatre to perform a special one-off performance of “A Little Man’s Holiday” for their friends and family, before PaddleBoat continues with their run of public shows featuring the professional cast, Katie, Michael, Hattie and Stuart.

Students had been working with PaddleBoat Theatre Company for three months and the hardwork clearly paid offThe students brought their own charm, personality and wit to the play, enriching it into a visual and sensory spectacular.

The story tells of Little Man, a gentle soul meandering through life, but dreaming of more. He’s had enough of the city and when he gets the chance for real adventure he grabs it with both hands. The role of Little Man is played beautifully by PaddleBoat’s Michael Smith who welcomes the audience into Little Man’s world of escapism and fun.

The Deaf Academy student playing young Mr. Grumble also stood out with fascinating facial expressions and great moves. He could certainly carve out a great career in acting ahead of him. In fact, all the young students threw themselves into their parts with confidence, leading the audience from one scene to the next using visual comedy, clever chorography and simple props.

In one imaginative scene, paper cannon balls were thrown into the auditorium from stage and a friendly battle breaks out when the audience throws them back! The creative use of dance, LED lights and see-through umbrellas with satin ribbon tentacles in the underwater jellyfish scene is also particularly wonderful.

The audience’s laughter, rounds of applause, feet stamping and hand waving (clapping in sign language) brought the theatre alive.

By the final scene, the audience feels inspired to grab their treasure maps and follow in Little Man’s footsteps to find an adventure all of their own. This is a fabulous children’s production, made all the better by encouraging everyone to take part in the story.

Overall, it was an inspiring show. Sign language is not only a beautiful language but it is art in motion and really lends itself to theatre and performance. This enriched production of, “A Little Man’s Holiday”, is a great way for both deaf and hearing families to learn from each other and raise awareness of the deaf experience.

“One of the most creative and enjoyable children’s shows I’ve seen in years”. Primary Times

“This company understands how to perform enriched children’s theatre in a way that isn’t dumbed down or diluted”. Audience member

PaddleBoat Theatre Company now continues its public run of shows of “A Little Man’s Holiday” featuring their own cast at Exeter Phoenix Theatre from Saturday 13 February to Saturday 20 February. Recommend age is 4+.
Length of show: 50 minutes.
Tickets cost £5, accompanying carers are free.
Box Office: 01392 667080.

About the Theatre Company

PaddleBoat Theatre Company believes that theatre is a space where imagination is brought to life. Based in Exeter, they are committed to delivering high-quality productions and workshops for children and families across the South-West. PaddleBoat believe in theatre which engages with the young minds of tomorrow – as well as reminding every adult that they too can rediscover their own imaginations.

A Little Man’s Holiday takes the audience on a magical journey from Little Man’s dull city dwellings to the high seas on a swashbuckling adventure. Through the use of puppetry, music and mime, these larger-than-life characters invite you into an enchanted world. A Little Man's Holiday was originally produced by Doorstep Arts and funded by Battersea Arts Centre and toured the South West and the Brighton and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The show has now been redeveloped to make it accessible and inclusive for a wider audience.

Article by Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education

posted in Entertainment / Stage, Theatre & TV

13th February 2016