A big question that has tortured parents for the past 3 months is “How on earth are we going to entertain the kids?” Balancing work, education, mental stimulation, personal serenity and exercise has been no easy task.
As Regional Theatre of the Year in The Stage Awards 2019, Nottingham Playhouse have tackled this chaos head-on. Not only have they been uploading classes and content to their website, they’ve created a brand new live at-home theatre show, aimed at families and primary school children, to create a little bit of relief during the lockdown period.
Previously credited for his classical work, Jeff James has specifically written and directed Noah and the Peacock for Zoom, making it marvellously accessible to all. Performed live from the actor’s individual homes, watching families are invited to dress up as their favourite animal and contribute to soundscapes using made at home props.
Noah and the Peacock tells the story of Peacock and Peahen, as a terrible flood approaches the land and they must try to make their way to Noah’s ark. Peacock, being proud and pompous, doesn’t want to go outside in the rain which would ruin his beautiful feathers. Peahen, on the other hand, decides to brave the long journey and make her way to the ark, where they should board 2 by 2, and hopes that Peacock sees sense to join her.
The story feels long-winded, with a lot of simple dialogue, so some kids might get a little restless. Visually, the actors are expressive and have a couple of fun props but there could be more. However, clever parallels are drawn between the ark and lockdown: frustrations may run high, and we might get bored, but at least we’re safe and sound.
It’s also a very interactive piece and that is where the real strength lies. Across Zoom we see lots of families roaring like lions or shaking packets of crisps to make rain sounds or stamping their feet like elephants. Connecting families across the country and making everyone smile is a great triumph and a necessity at this time.
Noah and the Peacock also comes with lots of fun pre-show material. So, not only do you have entertainment for the duration of the show, you have extra activities that could provide hours of amusement. This includes an activity pack, videos and creative tasks such as mask art and prop-making, which will come in handy for the show!
As the performance ends, everyone shares their drawings of rainbows as the great flood clears and the sun comes out. It’s a reminder that there is always hope and a bright day will come.
Noah and the Peacock is streaming online until Sunday 21st June 2020. For more information and tickets, see the Nottingham Playhouse website.