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Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play at Polka Theatre review

PUBLISHED: 17:50 10 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:51 10 June 2013

Charlie and Lola

Charlie and Lola

Archant

Fans of the ever patient Charlie and his energetic sister Lola will be in for a treat this spring and summer, as a brand new puppet show comes to the Polka Theatre featuring the popular pair.

Together with best friends, Lotta and Marv, Charlie and Lola explore many familiar childhood experiences, from having fun making autumn leaf crafts and playing in the park to dealing with harder challenges such as not getting the main part in the school play.

The play is simply presented, with a set of cardboard puppets and basic props. Changing seasons are largely depicted through the leaves and blossom on the tree and the whole world is condensed down to the size of the puppets, offering a charming child’s-eye view of proceedings in a strangely adult-free world.

While the action moved a little slowly at times, the play was perfectly aimed at its intended 4 to 7 year old audience. Highlights for my six-year-old son included the floating of autumn leaves, glittery fish, snow and bubbles down into the audience from the ceiling. A feisty pirate battle on stage added to the fun too, thanks to some cleverly stunning set design from Laura McEwen.

The five puppeteers (Ceri Ashcroft, Aya Nakamura, Matthew Crowfoot, Sanjay Shelat and Phil Yarrow) interacted with each other and the puppets well, switching characters, mirroring the action in their expressions and arranging and rearranging props seamlessly. The pre-recorded voices jarred slightly to start with, but the audience soon became used to them and, in fact, they ended up adding to the other-worldly, childlike charm of the production.

The play’s central theme of the close sibling relationship and exploration of friendship complimented the simple presentation and child-friendly design perfectly. It has a message for every generation and should certainly be on the list of places to go locally this spring and summer.

• Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play is aimed at 4 to 7 year olds and runs until August 17. Tickets cost £16 (concessions £11) and can be booked via Polka Theatre’s Box Office: 020 8543 4888.

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