Rosie’s parents can’t pay the bills. While most children now use their imagination to focus in on the iPad, Rosie hasn’t got one. She’s got ice-lolly sticks, and at night they transform into a horse, Stickerino, who take her on a magical adventure to find treasure that can save her parents from going bankrupt. Based on the book by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Quentin Blake, Rosie’s Magic Horse is an inspiring story for the little ones, teaching us that life is not all technology and TV – with an imagination like Rosie’s anything can happen, and you might be able to solve a problem or two on the way.
Peaceful Lion Productions take their simple adaptation for stage on tour, delighting little ones on the way with fun for the whole family. The story is heart-warming and has a pinch of seriousness to it – mum and dad are having financial difficulties, something a lot of parents might nod along too – and in a city where everything seems to be at children’s feet, it’s refreshing with a story that nurtures the imagination. The staging is humble, with set and props designed as if popping out of a children’s book. It’s a great idea, and the young audience respond well to it, although some of it seems almost too simplistic and unfinished.
Stickerino emerges out of an ice-lolly box and is a charming puppet, with a sassy American voice-over (by Christopher Hogben) that’s as genius in its comical timing as it is loveable. The cast of three enchant the children and morph in and out of characters, as they transform well-known songs and encourage the audience to sing along. They have the children captivated throughout, though at times the performances seems to dumb down for the little ones a tad. That said, Katie Arnstein’s Rosie has sweet charm that drives the story like a sparkly treat, and though the vocal quality in the Canada Water Culture Space is poor and some of the singing is a bit off, it is very clear that the piece is for the children, and it manages to show a love for the younger audience members that warms.
On a low budget, Rosie’s Magic Horse makes use of what it’s got, and though scene changes and the puppeteering could be smoother, it is a show for the children and, like a child’s play, anything can morph into something else. Our imagination has to work a bit, but for the little ones Rosie’s world is as alive as anything – it could be a scene from their own bedroom, and that’s why they enjoy the simplicity of this little tale. An action-packed 45-minute adventure that tops an afternoon on the iPad.
Rosie’s Magic Horse is touring until 5 May. For tickets and more information, see the Peaceful Lion Productions website.