I love that Boy1 gets to indulge his passion for imaginary play each week at the Gulbenkian Youth Theatre. It’s the one ‘enrichment’ activity he’s stuck at and while he’s there, I get to enjoy a coffee in the theatre cafe with Boy2; everyone’s happy! Because we’re there each week we never miss news of which shows are coming up. On Sunday we were lucky enough to go and see Arthur’s Dream Boat, adapted from Polly Dunbar’s gorgeous picture book by Brighton’s Long Nose Puppet company. Aimed at 2-7yrs, it offered a rare opportunity for both boys to enjoy the theatre together. For Boy2, it was his first (successful) experience. He’s quite sensitive to new situations and is not yet interested in watching much TV so sitting still is not his forte. Boy1 was convinced it was going to be ‘too babyish’, an opinion he formed based on the book itself and by a quick visual scan of the other children in the audience. Despite all this they were both truly engaged from start to finish.
The Gulbenkian allows for an intimate theatre experience at the best of times, but it felt particularly cosy for this production because of the puppet-show stage within a stage set up. A sweet tale of a little boy, Arthur, who has an amazing dream about a wonderful boat that he is desperate to share with his family, only they’re all too busy to listen. That is until the dream gets bigger and bigger. A humorous yet thought provoking visual delight which touched both boys long after the show was over. For me the icing on the cake was the trippy musical score created by Gomez frontman, Tom Gray; a wonderful antidote to most kids music. Boy1 wanted to buy the CD post performance but we decided not to as he was disappointed it didn’t include the actual narration. I’m now thinking this was a mistake; I’m sure the music alone would bring the story back in his mind all by itself. I think I might have to buy it anyway. In the meantime Boy2 is enjoying the picture book and has been caught acting the show out. He asked the next day to go again. Now that surely is a review in itself?! The tour continues so try and get to see it if you can.