REVIEW: MATHILDA AND THE ORANGE BALLOON (ArlingtonArtsCentre) ★★★★
Randall de Sève’s book Mathilda and the Orange Ballon has been developed by The DH Ensemble in collaboration with US artist Jess Kaufman into a delightful children’s show for three to eight year olds and their families and is designed to be both interactive and deaf accessible. The result is a charming forty five minutes that any lover of children’s books will enjoy as the story is brought to life with great creativity and imagination.
Beautifully set within a giant blue frame, by set and costume Designer Jo Sargeant, she recreates the illustrations from the book and then projects on the front gauze images which the cast interact with . There is a magical moment when the storyteller pretends to blow up a balloon on one side of the stage which then floats across the gauze to appear in the hand of the other storyteller .
The narrators are the over excited Adam Jay-Price and charming Mia Ward who uses British Sign Language throughout to communicate with the cast and audience . Their interactions with the young audience are fun and energetic as they high five, ask for help in describing what a balloon is and then get the audience to act as balloons. It was wonderful to see the kids responding and engaging with the show .
Behind the gauze the story is acted out by deaf actor, disability awareness advocate and fashion influencer Hermon Berhane as Mathilda the sheep in a grey world munching on clover until the orange balloon opens her mind to the world beyond her field .
Director Jennifer K. Bates integrates the storytelling, signing and projections into a slick effective and enjoyable show that holds the attention of the young audience and then delights them by inviting them each on stage to walk around the set and receive their very own orange balloon to take home.
Reviewed by Nick Wayne
Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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