Beep was a delight from start to finish. It started with my granddaughter asking her mother to photograph her standing by the poster of the show and finished with her going up to meet Mort and Beep at the end of the show. In between, I laughed, wondered, enjoyed and marvelled at how much a “simple” story supposedly created for the youngest of audiences had so much to teach all of us. I found myself whole-heartedly joining in with the rest of the full house in waving my arms madly to try and make enough wind to turn the windmill to power the rooster, to raise the alarm, to wake the village. I had a constant smile on my face throughout the performance from the ripples of delighted laughter from the children in the audience and was in a state of total appreciation for the skill of everyone involved in creating and presenting this piece of theatre.
To describe something as “simple” often belies the complexity and deep thinking that has gone into the creation. The set was perfect both as an acting and puppetry space but also as an example of the art of concealment and revelation. For me it played on the excitement of opening a beautifully crafted box to discover that inside the box is a whole new world. Or the wonder of seeing a cuckoo clock for the first time where characters appear absolutely on cue and disappear again, so that you wait excitedly for them to reappear.
However much I appreciate good sets and design, it is the story and the way it is told that holds the key and Beep was perfect. It worked well on so many levels. Yes, it did its job and told the story for the three-year-old target audience. Jelk, Juant and Williams were engaging and engaged in the show and found exactly the right tone, there was no patronising of children in this show. The story had enough repetition to establish the structure and emphasis the drama involved when routines are disrupted. It established relationships between the characters and the audience, carefully building in those moments that resonate with us at a human level. An example of which would be the way Mort tries to capture the Fuzzies (I’m not sure if that is the correct name) and keeps missing and falling over or being tickled by them instead, causing outbursts of giggles from the youngsters around me.
Beep also had messages that the “older” members of the audience could relate to and engage with - without feeling preached at. Mort decides to be brave and meet Beep rather than be fearful of her. Wouldn’t it be great if people made that decision more often? Beep finds a sustainable way to recharge Beep’s batteries and makes her welcome in his home since hers has been destroyed. I leave you to draw your own parallels.
In case you haven’t guessed – I loved this show and would happily take my other two grandchildren to see it. In fact if I’m honest, I don’t think I even need to use them as an excuse to see it again.
Photographer: Shane Reid