It seems we can’t get enough of a good thing, as after our successful trip to Cinema Bambino last week, we were back at mac Birmingham for Elmer by Riverside Performing Arts. As nervous as I was that Pickle was perhaps nearing the top end of the age bracket for Cinema Bambino, I had the opposite fears for Elmer as it was promoted as being for Aged 3+, and Pickle is not even 1 year old yet… but he’s been so enthralled by the other theatre productions that he’s seen that I thought it was worth the risk. And despite a couple of minutes when I genuinely thought ‘oh god, what have I done?’, I think he did enjoy himself!
We had a VERY special beginning to the month as on Wednesday 1st February, Pickle and I were treated to a wonderful experience: his very first theatre visit. A friend from school (who you can find on Instagram: @justrosey56) won tickets to see Oily Cart‘s In a Pickle at Warwick Arts Centre and was kind enough to invite us to join her. I knew of Oily Cart’s work from my University days but hadn’t ever seen one of their performances before, so although I had an idea of what to expect, I had no idea how Pickle would take to it and what exactly would be involved.
I only need three words to sum up the afternoon: it was magical.
The performance is based upon Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and begins with some of the friendliest sheep I’ve ever had the luxury of encountering inviting all the children (and their eager parents) to join in a sheep shearing party. After a whirlwind of sensory excitement, a lost baby is found and the adventure begins in returning the precious princess to her castle home.
The show is designed with 3 – 5 year old children in mind, so I was somewhat apprehensive about taking my eight month old baby into it (and slightly fearful that I’d be told to leave!) but I needn’t have worried. Oily Cart know what they’re doing, and with so much to see, listen to, touch and smell, Pickle was enthralled the whole time. He even fulfilled all five senses by having a little chew on one of the carrot fishes too! There were a few other families there who had younger and older siblings encountering the show together so Pickle and his friend Rose weren’t the only babies in arms there and I was genuinely impressed with how they all behaved. I had armed myself with a few handheld snacks to be used as bribes to keep him quiet if needs be, but they remained in my bag the whole time.
Weirdly enough, this production was commissioned by the theatre I used to work for before having Pickle, the Royal Shakespeare Company, so it feels somewhat serendipitous that this particular production was his first theatrical experience. And WHAT a weird coincidence that it has Pickle in the title (‘in a pickle’ is actually a phrase coined by Shakespeare).
If you’d like to catch this production, the next leg of its tour is in Canterbury from 8-12 February 2017 before it excitingly heads over to America in April and May.
Whether you’re a seasoned theatre goer yourself, or you’ve never set foot in an auditorium before, I can’t recommend this show enough as a first encounter of culture for little ones. I’m already on the hunt for the next baby-friendly show to take Pickle to, and I can’t wait to continue what I hope will become a lifelong love of his.