Big Bones, VAULT Festival

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By Becky Lennon

‘’Everything is Big at the big top! Its Big, it’s whopping, the fun’s never stopping!’’ 

Nora, a clumsy girl with no gang of friends, discovers that she is the long lost great-great-great-granddaughter of Big Bones, the owner of the Big Bones Big Top Circus!  We follow her journey to the big top where she meets various characters, such as Jim Membership the strong man. Nora is also met with the news that the Big Top has a curse, which prevents audiences seeing the show. Will Nora be able to reverse the curse and reconnect audiences with the circus? 

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All Wrapped Up, Stratford Circus

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by Laura Kressly

Oily Cart makes gently immersive, highly sensory performances for people under five years old, and people with complex needs. This winter-themed touring show for little ones takes them into a world of colourful lights, dark shadows and sparkly parcels that reveal an array of treasure, from reams of bubble wrap, to coloured lights to a magnificent puppet constructed out of cellophane. As lights dim and glow amidst the white drapes and shimmering cushions, children are invited to explore the tactile, etherial landscape that evokes the the wonder of unwrapping presents on a snowy Christmas morning.

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The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps, Wilton’s Music Hall

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by Laura Kressly

Seven-year-old Crispin, newly orphaned and the last remaining member of the Clumps family, has inherited a creepy, country pile called Raddlesham Mumps. Managed by an ancient butler who could have stepped out of a Dickens novel or The Addam’s Family, of course there’s more to this house than meets the eye. The bright and articulate child questions what seem to be supernatural forces and a familial curse, but the answers he gets in this narrative poem are far from savoury.

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Anansi the Spider, Unicorn Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

They say that a long time ago animals could talk, just like people do now. Anansi the spider was the smartest of all these ancient creatures, and used his intelligence for all sorts of nefarious aims. His legacy of scheming lives on as a collection of stories from West Africa to the Caribbean. This new production presents three of them where the mythical trickster isn’t always the nicest, but directed by Artistic Director Justin Audibert for 4-7 year-olds, they are engaging morality tales with music, interaction and excellent performances.

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The Sea Queen and Twelfth Night, The Scoop

by Laura Kressly

Since 2003, there has been a summer of free, open-air theatre at The Scoop, a sweeping, granite amphitheatre on the Thames next to City Hall. This year’s double-bill is a 90-minute version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and a new children’s musical, The Sea Queen. Performed by one cast doing double-duty, Twelfth Night is the far superior show though there is plenty to appeal to young children in The Sea Queen.

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Dido, Unicorn Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

If theatre has a reputation for being inaccessible and snobbishly high cultured, opera is doubly regarded as such. Fortunately, the Unicorn and ENO teamed up to make this young people’s version of Dido and Aeneas, pared down to 60 minutes with an easy-to-understand story for secondary school students. However, the story is pitched as placing Dido’s teenaged daughter at the centre, but this version is not reconfigured enough to make her more than a passive observer of her mother’s collapse.

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The Show in Which Hopefully Nothing Happens, Unicorn Theatre

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By Laura Kressly

For a show in which hopefully nothing happens, there are plenty of weird and wonderful things that unfold, of course. Because a children’s show – or one for adults for that matter – would be incredibly dull indeed if nothing happened, but that’s absolutely not a worry here. 

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