"Theatrical storytelling at its finest"
by Ed Barrett for remotegoat on 14/12/19

There is a large dose of universality about Beasty Baby that makes it wonderfully resonant, alongside a playfulness that renders it hugely enjoyable. The cast of four (you soon forget one is a puppet) weave a perfectly magical tale of adults trying to cope with a mischievous baby who is often a handful, but somehow always lovable.

Between them, Elliot Liburd, Teele Uustani and Emily Windham fill the stage with an easy charm that instantly draws you in; but it is their fine acting, puppeteering, and musicality that mean that we believe even the tiniest moments of this fine production.

It is rare to see work of this quality. Every single element has been given careful consideration, and honed to a simplicity that looks deceptively easy, but can only be achieved by a combination of great direction, mountains of talent, and a huge amount of hard work.

The live music embodied this perfectly, with Jessica Dennheisser’s compositions being given ideal form by the cast of three.

Much of the set at first looked like it might have come straight from Ikea, but proved to be far more versatile thanks to clever design from Verity Quinn coupled with elements of poor theatre.

The show is billed as being ‘ideal for children 8 and under and their grown ups’, and that is certainly true. But, given the quality of the storytelling, I’d say it is not only suitable for anyone who loves theatre, there’s also a decent chance this show might change the minds of those who think theatre is inaccessible, or simply not for them.

With relaxed performances, signed performances, and the options of captioning or audio description, Theatre Rites have obviously worked hard to overcome barriers. The minimal script, coupled with the wonderful clarity of narrative and of intention would also in my opinion make this an ideal show for those for whom English is a second language.

Having acted in a variety of plays for young audiences, I know you have to be at the top of your game to keep children entertained for even a short time. The 60 or so primary school children in the audience were by turns totally amazed, highly amused, deeply moved, and never less than rapt; and the same can be said of the adults.

I sometimes bemoan the lack of an option to award half stars, and often err on the side of generosity in awarding five stars to four-and-a-half-star shows. This isn’t one of those occasions: this is a five-star show from top to toe.

If I thought the Beasty Baby itself might be a bit more – well, Beasty, what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be so perfect.

You might see a more festive show this Christmas; you won’t see one finer.

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