Theatre Review: Take Flight

Words: Natalie Owen
Photos: Natalie Owen and Press
Monday 20 May 2024
reading time: min, words

On Saturday 18 May, Silvia was the youngest reviewer for LeftLion at 17 months old, where we went together as a family to see Take Flight, a theatre production especially made for 0-2 year olds by The Gramophones at Lakeside Arts…

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The Gramophones are a female led theatre company putting children first in everything that they do. They use inventive storytelling, physical theatre, clowning and circus to tell stories to a young audience. Run by Co-Artistic Directors Hannah Stone and Ria Ashcroft who are both theatre-making mums.

We had the pleasure of going to see their production on Saturday of Take Flight. The story follows a mother and baby bird. As the baby grows and explores, they navigate making friends, overcoming challenges and how the mother bird eventually supports them to leave the nest & to take flight. This multi-sensory, interactive show ignites the imagination and curiosity of the babies who are then invited into the space with the performers. During the stay and play session the babies can touch, play and explore the set and props, including having a swing in the silks.

The Gramophones work closely with development psychologist Dr Valentina Sclafani from Lincoln University to ensure the content is positive for babies in terms of neurological & motor skills development & to encourage a strong connection & bond between babies and their grown ups.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet my little girl Silvia, will know that she doesn't like to sit still unless it’s to watch CocoMelon on TV and before coming into the theatre room I was worried she might try to run off. One of the guidelines for us parents was to make sure our babies are kept safe during the performance and were asked not to allow the babies to run up on the stage if we can help it. If they did run up on stage, the staff would kindly help them back to us parents or we were welcomed to run up to get them as well. 

So, as Silvia is so energetic, I assumed that she would head straight for the stage. To be fair, she did try this at first while everyone was settling down on the cushions made available for us to sit down. But as soon as the mother bird began to sing, Silvia was captivated. There were a few times I thought this was the moment she would run off… but the performers were amazing at keeping all of the children entertained, every child sat still and sat, laughed and were amazed by the performers on stage.

The performers would interact with the babies and give items to them to keep them amused and also allowed us parents to have that special bonding time by playing with the item with them. It worked well with the storyline of the performance and the end song had me emotional, where the mother bird helped her baby bird learn to fly. Something all us mums in particular will struggle to do one day, I know for sure, is to allow our babies to leave the nest; so I think the song hit me from this perspective. It was beautifully sung, the whole act was just beautiful and something I have never imagined before for their age. I know Silvia had a lovely time as she was so engaged throughout and her dad even mentioned at the end how well the singer did to incorporate rhyming about the babies outfits as they arrived into the hall.

We have never been to a performance that is created for 0-2 year olds and it was absolutely great to find something aimed solely at them.

If you are thinking about taking your baby to see the Gramophones, I would highly recommend them; and if they put on a performance again, I will be sure to take Silvia back!

Featuring the cast and creative team of:

Baby Bird Farrell Cox
Mummy Bird Inês Sampaio Figueiredo
Director Ria Ashcroft
Associate Director Hannah Stone
Producer Bryony Livesey Casey
Designer Hannah Boothman
Music and Lyrics Darren Clark
Additional Music and Lyrics Inês Sampaio Figueiredo
Lighting Designer Arnim Friess
Dramaturg Tilly Branson
Aerial Consultant Sarah Bebe Holmes
Choreographer Sarah Butler
Stage Manager Alyssa Watts
Early years Consultant Sarah Argent
R&D Designer Gemma Caseley-Kirk

Take Flight was performed at Lakeside Arts on Saturday 18 - Sun 19 May 2024


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