What would you do if you went to a cash machine, and, instead of being greeted by the usual dehumanised screen, came face to face with a man gazing out at you like a trapped bluebottle? That’s the first question posed by this delightful, stunningly visually inventive show from Theatre Rites, a site-specific work which takes the depressing ingredients of the fiscal deficit and whisks them up into a magical mystery tour for children.
My junior theatre critic colleague, who at four and a half was just a whisker younger than the recommended five-and-over age range, was gripped and amused throughout. When the trapped man – revealed to us as the manager of the notional bank we were visiting – escaped and bolted downstairs into the cellar, White Rabbit-style, we followed him for the next stage of the adventure.
New governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, should probably see this show to get some ideas for communicating with his public. The children, and adults, were increasingly beguiled and entertained by a series of coups de théâtre which included a peevish robot filing cabinet that could have sprung straight from the brain of Douglas Adams, and a gloriously sinister animated accountant.
The serious question running through the show is what should we really value in life? In a darkened room, which represented the safe of the bank, a series of beautiful interactive installations encouraged the children to think about everything from saving bees to whether to recycle their mobile phones. So far, so very good, but the real wow factor came with a special-effects wishing pool at the end that had both children and adults exclaiming with delight. Worth every penny.
By Rachel Halliburton