One of very few family productions that form part of the 2016 London International Mime Festival, Kite immediately stands out. So much theatre produced for younger viewers relies on pre-existing stories or re-telling of old tales. It’s refreshing to learn that not only has the Devon-based theatre company, The Wrong Crowd, created this story from scratch, but they’re also teaming up with the Soho Theatre, a venue which (for some) wouldn’t immediately spring to mind as a destination for family theatre.
The story begins a sorrowful tale. A recently orphaned girl (Charlotte Croft) is taken to live with her grandmother (Liz Crowther) in a pokey London flat, where the airless windows and the faceless crowds only serve to compound her feelings of grief. It isn’t until she finds and fixes an old kite that her focus begins to shift, helping her escape her heavy heart and experience feelings of happiness and freedom once again.
With sharp exchanges between scenes marked by the atmospheric use of sound and lighting, and imaginative use of puppetry as the story begins to gather pace, there is so much magic in this beautiful, unpretentious production. It’s unsurprising that younger audience members couldn’t help but reach out for the kite as it flew high above their heads in the cosy auditorium. Yes, there are some grown up themes at play here: loss, grief, loneliness. Yet love and friendship come through in equal measures, together with mesmerising choreography capable of holding the attention of viewers even younger than the guideline age.
Kite is a rare treat for young theatre-goers. An original production which manages to be poignant and moving yet entertaining and accessible, without the need to compromise its art with unnecessary narration or over-dramatic dialogue. This is one celebration of mime that proves actions really can speak much louder than words.
Kite is at the Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE, until 6 February. Tickets £10-£17.50, family tickets from £40. Then at the Polka Theatre, 240 The Broadway SW19 1SB, 10-13 March. Tickets £13.50/£10. Recommended age 7+ Londonist attended on a complimentary press ticket.