How to review a piece of art designed to make you nod off? I suppose the obvious place to start with Duckie’s overnight sleepover show ‘Lullaby’ is to note that I got a respectable amount of shuteye. The same cannot be said of all 49 of my fellow sleepers, tucked into the Barbican Pit in two concentric circles of beds – light sleepers should think hard before signing up for this nine hour experience, because the fun but flimsy performance portions are not going to compensate for a restless night.
These may not be the most helpful references you've ever read, but said performance sections reminded me of the puppet-based kids’ telly of my youth – ‘Playdays’, ‘Dappledown Farm’, ‘Sesame Street’ – crossed with the cartoon fantasy films of Hayao Miyazaki.
In a prodigious array of costumes, the four performers put on a surreal pageant of friendly, fantastical animals, swaying dreamily about a stage in the centre of the room, singing Matthew Robins’s plaintive original songs.
The first part mostly consists of some octopuses singing about how brilliant it is being an octopus; I feel asleep during the dreamier second half, but woke in time to marvel at a silent constellation of glowing jellyfish, swirling about the room before winking out one by one and leaving us to our slumbers.
The opposite of provocative, and with little to say about our relationship with sleep, ‘Lullaby’ is liable to go down as a sweet curiosity within Duckie’s progressive cabaret canon. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, a weird, winsome little show which projects a childlike magic onto the night.
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