Children’s theatre is blooming at the moment. With Lyn Gardner’s brilliant piece for the Guardian on why children’s theatre matters and panto season upon us, the bar is set high for companies creating new pieces for the little ones. However The Great Escape – A Borrower’s Tale at Battersea Arts Centre is probably unlike anything that’s on the market at the moment.
As an interactive piece it is more a learning journey than an actual performance. The children gather in a group and are led around the small corriodors and secret rooms of BAC as scientists, dressed up for a big scientific discovery. Based on the children’s fantasy book The Borrowers, we are lectured about the tiny people living under the floor boards, borrowing things from “human beans” in order to survive. Thus we are guided through the remarkable inventions of the Borrowers with paper clips turned into hangers, slippers into beds and spoons into guitars. For anyone familiar with the book, it is a delight to revisit ones childhood as we walk through the Borrowers “exhibition” and take a sneak peek into their homes.
Conceived and created by Kazuko Hohki, The Great Escape – A Borrower’s Tale is a bubbly and charming experience for children aged 6-11. The actors have a natural manner around the little ones, and engage them fully in the scientific hunt for Bob the Borrower and his friends. Being led around the building the children inhabit the world of BIN (Borrowers International Network) and solve tasks as the mission tenses and Bob’s life is in danger. Kazuko Hohki and Andy Cox’s design is truly imaginative and super cute with little furniture carefully hidden around the loft for the children to discover. The piece is neatly crafted and elegantly manages to engage and teach its young audience at the same time, and even grownups can’t help smiling when they are asked to play in the Borrower’s band or dress up as scientists.
However, this is definitely a show for children and patient parents. As the whole piece is about interaction, arriving without a child seems terrifying and very exposing. So if you fancy a fun night out in Battersea on a hunt for little people, dressed as a scientific version of Harry Potter, then borrow the neighbour’s kid and drag him or her to The Great Escape – A Borrower’s Tale. It’s a chance for little ones to feel confident and challenge themselves using their brilliant imaginations. Perfect for the weekend.
The Great Escape – A Borrower’s Tale played at Battersea Arts Centre.