I am a big kid at heart. I honestly can’t deny it at all. This would probably explain why in a theatre full of around 20 reception aged children, I was the child who laughed the loudest and longest! Am I embarrassed? Well of course not because I can honestly say that if many of you were watching the latest run of theatrical magic that is ‘The Blue Elephant Theatres’ latest production ‘Noah’s Ark’, you too would be filled with good ole’ belly laughs.
This adaptation of the works of Mervyn Peake is a fabulous display of colour, music, and a whole heap of madness. (In a good way of course) ‘Noah’s Ark’ is the only play written by Peake aimed specifically with a younger audience in mind. The cast of this version of ‘Noah’s Ark’ added their own individual take on a classic, yet never at any moment compromising on quality or the overall essence of this biblical tale.
At the moment everything is so ‘PC’ there really isn’t much you can say without treading on someone’s tail. Yet, as an audience you get the chance to become a part of a spectacular story where you are allowed to be at one with the characters, laugh at their cheeky jokes and almost squirm when the cheeky cockerel wiggles his backside in one of the children’s faces! ‘Noah’s Ark’ brings back an essence of innocence where the multitudes of jokes are only understood by the adults as the kids are far too engrossed in the magnificence to notice anything else!
So why is ‘Noah’s Ark’ worth watching? Well firstly I am a sucker for bright colours and the masses of colourful lights and costume as well as the staging really helps to set the mysterious scene. On top of this, the story is also exceptionally told. As far as the original tale of ‘Noah’s Ark’ goes, you know the gist. Noah gets told by God that there will be a flood and he builds a massive ark for his family, with a whole heap of animals, two by two in tow so that when they are saved, they can reproduce and start over. But, what happens after that?
Peake’s adaptation gives the audience a little more insight into the back story of this thrilling tale. We meet a young boy, played by ‘Best Actress’ at the Offwestend.com Awards, Emily Wallis, who we meet playing with his ark. He falls asleep to, on awaking find himself surrounded by Noah’s livestock including a noisy hen and cockerel. The boy happens to come across a major ‘sabotage’ planned by some of the animals including the Hyena and Vulture who want to eat all of the humans on board and evidently takeover the world. (Think Pinky and the Brain, but more stupid)
This version of ‘Noah’s Ark’ is exciting and funny in all places, with captivating musical performances which encourages the children (and adults) to join in with the words and actions. The animal characterisations are also notable from the overly talented cast of actors including; Claire Sharpe (Mrs Hen, Mrs Stork and Wife 1) Heather Johnson (Mrs Goat, Dove, Wife 2) Adam Langstaff (Vulture, Pig and Shem) and Ceridwen Smith who plays the rather slightly loveable Hyena and Pig. All of the actors who make up the cast standout and completely engage with their audience. There was a unification of the cast which was so prevalent throughout that there was no time where they did not engage with each one another. Their ability to ‘suspend our disbelief’ was achieved almost instantaneously. ‘Noah’s Ark’ is known by thousands around the world, and I have watched a number of adaptations over the years, but nothing has been as exciting to watch as ‘The Blue Elephant Theatre’s’ latest offering.
Mervyn Peake in his version appeared to question the responsibilities of humans as a race. With the animals wanting to take them down and rule the world, Peake gave the often helpless creatures a chance to have a pivotal role within the entire story. Whereby, the human characters were often made to be second place. This made for stimulating and thought provoking viewing, something very few writers or theatrical institutes have successfully managed to do. Saying that, after watching this play, I can wholeheartedly conclude that the ‘Blue Elephant Theatre’ never ever do things by halves so this couldn’t and wouldn’t be an exception to the rule.
‘Noah’s Ark’ is running until the 20th December 2011 so if you love live entertainment and need somewhere to bring the kids for a few hours of much needed peace or if you are like me and you are an adult who encourages light hearted entertainment. Make sure you get down to the Blue Elephant Theatre. You would be crazy not to!
Special thanks to BET for having In-spireLS down.
Blue Elephant Theatre
59a Bethwin Road, London
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W| Words by Sasha Shantel I| Images 1, 4 and 7 by Dougie Firth, other images by In-spireLS- All Rights Reserved