Yesterday morning Amelia J and I joined Ben, Suze and their kids for a light and sound puppet spectacular which takes place daily every school holidays in the tiny back room of a shop in Camberwell. It all looked pretty tame as we came in. Dark room, walls painted with stars, small stage with red velvet curtain etc. Amelia sat on the floor next to Oskar in amongst all the other little and big kids with her thumb wedged firmly in her mouth. She looked so small down there! She tried to hold the hand of a slightly older girl who freaked out and shook her off, but she seemed content enough even when the lights dimmed down to black.
In the blackness a fluorescent light was turned on. Tiny shoelaces glowed and my pants lit up like a beacon. Weird fluorescent creatures came dangling down from the ceiling through dry ice fog and lights started to spin. Amelia lasted a few minutes until she wanted cuddles and “lap lap lap!” – but who can blame her when another terrified child used her head to firmly and rather brutally lever himself off the floor so that he could run and dive into his father’s lap lap lap.
Some semblance of a story was outlined – something about a garden full of bugs and evil dirty rats moving in to take over with intentions of driving out the bugs. There was a drawn out scene between a huge hairy spider and a venus fly trap that seemed pretty frightening to me. Kermit (TM?) appeared momentarily on a particularly dim stage (was it really kermit in the low light? Can we be sure? Perhaps we were mistaken… TM). Other bug puppets sang various songs. Bubbles flew around, loud indian music blasted and our eardrums quivered. Children who were really too old to be at a puppet show screamed and threw their heads back laughing with exaggerated (food colouring enhanced?) passion. At one point REAL RAIN fell from the ceiling (that bit was good) and just as things were getting a bit repetitive, an evil rat entered and incited much booing. Of course, the hairy caterpillar wanted us to tell him when the rat was behind him so there was some hysterical minutes where we all got to scream “RAT! RAAAAAAT!” (that bit was also good, quite cathartic actually).
Once Amelia got used to the dark and the strobe lights and the tiny room full of crazed kids she started to relax and there was much leg kicking, arm waggling and head bobbing going on. She really liked the rain falling on us (“Rain! Face! Chin! Cheek!”) and the wiggly snakes (“ssssss”) hanging from the ceiling. When Suze booked the tickets a couple of weeks ago, I seriously thought Amelia would last a heartbeat before getting bored and wanting to do something else but she quite happily sat there fully entertained for 45 minutes. A very successful experiment. Perhaps now I can contemplate Bananas in Pyjamas and Wiggles shows. Maaaybe.