This is a press review of the 11.30am performance of Little Gift at The Birmingham REP on 23 February 2019.
If you read my February children’s theatre post, you’ll know I was particularly excited about seeing Little Gift, the latest touring production from M6 Theatre, performed by Guy Hargreaves, someone I’d had the privilege of working with many years ago through the National Youth Theatre. Sometimes, I can get an idea in my head of what a theatre production might be like before I go (rightly or wrongly), and it can often set me up for a fall – anticipating the show to be one thing, when the reality is quite different. Not this time.
I thought Little Gift would be charming, beautiful and leave me with a smile on my face: and it delivered exactly that.
Little Gift is the story of helping others. It’s one man’s simple wish, his dream, fulfilled in a gentle and simple way. It’s a story that tells us it’s never too late to find hope, or love, or joy. It’s a bittersweet reminder (especially to us parents) that nothing or no one stays little forever – growth is a beautiful part of life, but it means that we sometimes have to say goodbye to the things we love most. But it’s not a sad goodbye. Instead, it opens up our world in a whole new and glorious way.
The story is mainly narrative driven, as opposed to some of the language-free performances I’ve previously taken Pickle to see. There were still some lovely pieces of physical comedy that Pickle giggled along with – he particularly loved a sequence where the little cardboard box gift kept creeping closer to the main character Ted. Hearing him enjoying theatre like that will never get old for me – it melts my heart every single time.
Guy, the solo performer, does an incredible job. He is warm, charming and takes us through the story with a dash of magic and whimsy. I expected nothing less! The puppeteering is careful and animates the main character of Ted wonderfully. It was an absolute delight to witness.
The set and props come together perfectly – each adding extra layers of meaning. The very texture of them helping to tell the story, from the socks that make up the arms of Ted’s armchair to the loose umbrella for Ted’s tree, already hinting that more growth is to come. I’m sure the further you look into this production, the more you’ll find. And that’s part of why I loved it so much. There’s the story on a very surface level, but there’s also so many analogies and messages that build upon each other to create this rich, powerful but ultimately gentle production.
Little Gift is perfectly pitched for 3 to 7 year olds. Pickle is slightly younger than the recommended age, and whilst he was really well engaged for the majority of the show, he did do a little bit of exploring nearer the end, testing out sitting in a few different seats. The slightly older children in the audience were mesmerised throughout and it was wonderful to hear such positive thoughts as we all emerged from the studio with a lighter step, filled with a little more hope and a lot more joy.
Future Touring Dates
I strongly urge you to catch this show if you can. The future touring dates are as follows, but I strongly hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Little Gift, a show that deserves many tours to come in my opinion.
Little Gift is a beautifully clever show, each element of it coming together perfectly to craft a heart-warming message that will show your children just how wonderful it is to help those around them. Just my cup of tea.
Disclaimer: we were given press tickets to see Little Gift. All opinions and views remain my own, and as always, are 100% honest.