When you don’t have kids there’s not much cause for going anywhere near children’s theatre, with the general exception to the rule being panto when you’re feeling festive. So it was intriguing to see a work that gave little minds (and big ones) something to ponder rather than filling them full of sugar and letting them run riot.
STATIk, by Wirral’s Action Transport Theatre, was aimed at over fives, but had a dark and philosophical side demonstrated by the accomplished clowning of its cast.
Michael Lattin-Rawstrone was Mikey, and began the show messing around with a bag of sweets and minding his own business until getting put to work in a Fritz Lang-style radio factory. As his two colleagues (Rebecca Rogers and Simone Lewis) kept their time to strict rules and regulations and competed over shiny medals, confused Mikey found he didn’t quite get what was going on – and, could you believe it, fell foul of the strict ‘no sweets’ policy and had his flying saucers taken away. That’s just not right.
The black and white backdrop was more like a Kraftwerk album cover than any cartoony wonderland, and if Mikey fiddled with the radios he occasionally found snippets of wisdom from young voices coming through – taken verbatim from the chats with schoolchildren that inspired the show.
Empowered by his discovery, in Trueman Show style, Mikey began to break free and try to show his colleagues that there was more to life than the drudgery of the production line. But of course, all of this was demonstrated without dialogue. There was some classic clowning – Mikey having trouble getting into an all-in-one uniform, the old ‘going down to the basement’ elevator gag (always a winner) and some beautiful moments, including a snowball fight on the factory floor.
The music, by Patrick Dineen who often works on the Unity’s Christmas shows, was a wonderful accompaniment to the piece. The 50 minute performance was sweet, intelligent and amused the young children in the audience without ever patronising or giving in to the temptation of an easy laugh. ATT have created an imaginative and warm piece of physical theatre that would appeal to anyone.