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Storytelling at its finest - and without words

Kite, Warwick Arts Centre, Feb 18 & 19.

This is storytelling at its finest, made all the more remarkable since it is done entirely without words. The first play without words attempted by visual theatre team The Wrong Crowd, the "Wrong’uns" (here represented by Amy Blair, Rosy Fordham, Jack Dorning, and Elida de Grey) use sound, puppetry, and a cleverly designed set to tell a story of loss, love, and adventure, delivering a visual delight in the process. From the first journey through various public transports, to the wonderfully executed Kite flight scenes, the space is used perfectly to create an atmosphere of wonder. In a touching opening sequence a young girl (Amy Blair) packs away her mother’s possessions before being whisked away to a new life with her grandmother. She finds it difficult to adjust to her new life, but then comes some magic when a kite awakens, eager to play. Fun with the kite becomes ever more enticing, and before you know it the girl is caught on the kite-tails and is soaring through the sky with birds and visiting the sights of London before becoming lost. A Mary Poppins-esque search is conducted by the girl’s grandmother (Rosy Fordham), and she and her umbrella follow an urban trail of sweets, buskers, and foxes, to find her granddaughter, lost in the wind. Instead of words, sound and music keep the narrative moving and animate the characters, and that adds to the magic of the production. The soundtrack is delicate and playful and the team synchronise their movements to the music perfectly to create an absorbing world. The paint-splattered set is in constant motion, being wheeled about and put together to transport both audience and cast to a variety of locations, from the confines of a small flat to the London Underground, and even in and amongst the famous London skyline itself.

The real treats are the intricate and beautifully designed puppets, masterfully manipulated by the stage crew, and the kite itself. Animating puppets effectively and accurately is no easy task, but here it is done with a subtlety and playfulness which can’t help but bring a smile to your face as girl and grandmother are blown across London, in hot pursuit of each other, and the mischievous kite. Drawing inspiration from other speechless children’s tales such as The Snowman, Kite is playful, fun, and magical, but also very touching. It kept a young audience spellbound, and the adults smiling.

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