Hush a Bye, Stratford Circus

by Laura Kressly

A bird family of a Grandma, Grandpa and their granddaughter are busy waiting for eggs to hatch in their warm, welcoming treetop world. There’s plenty to do – nests to be prepared, worms to be caught and-

A human baby to look after???

Thankfully, there are plenty of children on hand to help!

This gentle, sensory experience for young children is a wonderfully engaging performance. Sat at perfectly-sized tables with everything they need to help the bird family build nests, they are coached and encouraged through a day in this delightful woodland.

Music by Max Reinhardt and Kadialy Kouyate is rhythmic and playful, but Jens Cole’s design is what really engages. The surprising, interactive set is bright and practical, adapting to the needs of the children that use it. 

The story is straightforward and easy enough for little ones to follow, whilst still having sound  dramaturgical focus and structure. It encourages empathy and care for others, particularly those more vulnerable. 

The diverse cast is bighearted, responsive and firm with boundaries. They encourage the children whilst maintaining strict control over what could, at points, become more chaotic. Though the adults sit on the periphery of the room, it is genuinely delightful to watch the dynamic between the performers and the young audience.

Oily Cart are without doubt a master of creating work for very young children who are both non-disabled and disabled. The incorporation of sensory stimulation is engaging and inclusive, and every element of the production is executed with deliberation and care. It’s even a soothing escape from the real world for adults.

Hush a Bye tours through 18 February.

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