"Magical puppetry, beatboxing, and singing"
by Ed Barrett for remotegoat on 12/02/19

Co-written and co-directed by Keith Saha and Sue Buckmaster, Big Up is a very engaging show for 3- to 6-year-olds (though I suspect many outside that bracket will also enjoy it every bit as much as did the adults and tiny toddlers also in attendance) involving mesmeric beatboxing and soundscaping by Hobbit, who, along with fellow cast members and puppeteers Dorcas Sebuyange (who is also in fine voice), Iestyn Evans and Clarke Edwards, bring a variety of inanimate objects to life with warmth, wit and ingenuity.

The show starts out as an impressive display of visual and audio creativity, drawing us in with a stream of wonderful moments of surprise and recognition. It then evolves into a more recognisable narrative as the abstract is replaced by the anthropomorphic, which is in turn replaced by a very endearing humanoid puppet that instantly gains the empathy of the adults and children in the audience alike.

The cast do a great job of making all this a lot more fun than the above description might make it sound, knowing when to take centre stage, and when to give the puppets the spotlight.

I must admit, given I don’t have the option of awarding half stars, I did spend about the first third of the show wondering how I was going to average out my own perception of the show (a solid 4 stars) with that of my daughter Ella (who was clearly of the opinion anything less than 5 stars would be a travesty). I needn’t have worried: by the final third, I’d been completely won over. I can’t award the number of stars suggested by my five-year-old fellow critic (‘one thousand, one hundred and eight’), but have no hesitation awarding five.

Take your little ones – especially if this would be their first theatrical experience. They’ll be won over too.

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