IF you are wondering how to occupy small children in the run-up to Christmas, or in the days following the holidays, there probably won’t be a more wondrous experience than Little Bulb Theatre’s Antarctica, on at Bristol Old Vic Studio until 4th January.
Specially created for very young audiences and their families, but equally enchanting for anyone who loves live theatre and retains a childlike fascination with the world, it’s the story of a journey to the frozen wastes of he South Pole in search of a mysterious anibird, the usually-reclusive Owlerbear.
Our intrepid leader sets sail from Bristol, but not before he recruits two ships’ cooks, a flag-bearer and a team of map readers from his audience.
Encountering blizzard conditions, he sets up camp, determined to find out all about the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and the animals of the land, and how they all work together.
Before long, in the swirling snow, he meets penguins, seagulls, whales, fishes and seals. But where IS the owlerbear. It’s up to the audience to make sure he sees it, in all its glory, before he returns home.
As Alex Scott, Clare Beresford and Dominic Conway perform this enchanting tale, with musical accompaniment by Dvorak, Mozart, Saint Saens and many more favourite composers, the task for the theatre staff is to keep the little ones off the acting area.
Can you imagine children watching the constantly-flickering TV screen ever becoming so involved? I can’t.
It is sheer joy to watch their faces, in rapt attention, as the adventure unfolds and new characters appear.
Running for just under an hour, it is a perfect interlude, and a beautiful way to tell young audiences about the mysteries and delights of travelling to new places and meeting new friends.