4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Sweetly experimental theatre company Little Bulb’s shows are infused with the sort of off-beat imagination that most adults only encounter when they meet a two-year-old. Don’t get me wrong: that’s a compliment. It’s their unique way of looking at the world, and at theatre, that helps to make their work so delightful, funny and wondrously silly.

It makes a lot of sense, then, that Little Bulb have now made a show for ages two to six. ‘Antarctica’ is not a lot more than three company members (Alex Scott, Dominic Conway and Clare Beresford) dressing up in hilarious DIY costumes, pulling funny faces, pretending to be animals and dancing around the place. But what a lot of fun to watch that is.

We follow brave explorer Sir Peregrine Falcon as he embarks on a trip to the South Pole. He is trying to take photographs of penguins, seagulls, seals and the lesser spotted Owlarbear, which has the head of an owl and the body of a bear. While Scott plays Falcon and gently cajoles the young audience into calling out, being map readers and flag bearers, Beresford and Conway lark about as the animals. There’s a hilarious dance of the snowflakes, where the two wear headdresses and white long johns, plus some fat angry seals and the monstrous Owlabear. The latter is an absolute beauty: it emerges backlit from behind a screen, as the rest of the lights go dim. It’s other-worldly and a little scary, until it starts waving and dancing.

As with most Little Bulb shows there’s music in abundance, from original harmonised sung tunes to soaring classical music during the animal routines, which quickly hushed all the chattering. There’s a magical moment where we see the aurora borealis (a glitterball) and an enrapturing sequence under the water, created with puppets and lots of bubbles.

Consisting of animal encounter after animal encounter, ‘Antarctica’ is fairly limited. Nevertheless, this is one show your kids should emerge from chattering excitedly, happy and maybe even a tiny bit braver, too.

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