Review: Tarzanna. Gramophones Theatre Company. Lakeside Arts. Nottingham University

Tarzanna

The Gramophones Theatre Company

Direction by Ria Angela Ashcroft and Hannah Lucy Stone

Aerial Choreography by Sarah Bebe Holmes

Music composition by Darren James Clark

Lakeside Arts, Nottingham – Sunday 31st October, 2021

If you have not yet been to the Lakeside Arts Theatre, then let me recommend it for families, especially those with young children. It is easy to reach by public transport and is based in a beautiful setting with a café, outdoor playpark, and a handy lake if you fancy a walk. The theatre itself is comfortable and intimate with good views all round for both your little ones and your big ones. The staff members are extremely friendly and helpful, too.

There is a buzz in the auditorium as we arrive to watch Tarzanna. Children are asking eager questions as everyone makes themselves comfortable. We have brought along Noah (6) and our own Anna (3) to join in the fun. There are families everywhere which is pleasing to see, and the stalls are full as we all wait for the lights to dim.

Enter ‘Anna’ (Farrell Cox) who immediately grabs everyone’s attention as she playfully involves the audience in miming washing our hands and spraying deodorant. The children in the audience are instantly won over by the warmth of her performance and her winning smile. Part of the fun for me is seeing how the children join in without inhibition, laughing and grinning along.

‘Anna’ likes to keep everything neat and tidy in her world. She is constantly cleaning; indeed, she comes on stage equipped with a spray bottle, cloth, dustpan and brush. In her garden, the leaves are swept up and disposed of straightaway. However, everything changes when ‘Anna’ is transported to a magical rainforest world by a mischievous bunch of wild animals. When her new home is placed in danger, can ‘Anna’ become ‘Tarzanna,’ the wilder version of herself that she needs to be to save her new friends?

Tarzanna provides an appealing introduction to puppets, mime, circus skills and aerial theatre. It is both inventive and imaginative. Noah declares the rope skills to be ‘awesome.’ As an adult, this is my favourite part, too. You can only marvel at the way the ‘monkeys’ clamber up and down the hanging ropes, performing tricks and stunts along the way. The audience frequently erupts into spontaneous applause and there is genuine jeopardy involved on the part of Madeline McGowen and Claire Crook.

Our Anna (3) loves the ‘sloths’ but is not as keen on the hyenas. This would be my one note of caution. In a darkened auditorium and given their costumes and movements, the hyenas could be frightening to younger children. Older ones will understand and appreciate the release that comes when ‘Tarzanna’ is out of danger, but younger ones may get upset before you reach that point.

Overall, Noah finds the show to be ‘so, so cool.’ It keeps his attention throughout, and he asks thoughtful questions about the themes, for example the effect our choices can make on the environment around us. He also loves the songs, and we all leave encouraging one another to ‘Swing, swing away……’ as we head toward the playpark to do just that.

Running time: 45 minutes (no interval)

Suitable for ages 3-8 years

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