PUZZLE

Fri 5th – Sat 20th August 2016

reviews

Thomas Jordan

at 11:10 on 14th Aug 2016

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For those Fringe lovers with babies and young children, it must be a tough balancing act to keep the entire family entertained. But over at ZOO there is now a show that should comfortably fill the baby amusement quota for the day. With soft cushions, hypnotic music and three smiling felt-clad adults, any desperate parents can rest assured that they will have their youngest and dearest kept giggling and smiling for an entire show.

It seems that this Lithuanian troupe needs nothing more than a few cushions and felt suits to achieve their goal. The opening simply involves a type of calm, slow breakdancing, as the three performers spin about on their cushions. All the while they maintain happy grins, without over-expressing anything in an intimidating way. Immediately there is an air of peace in the room, and every baby is transfixed, their parents presumably relieved. Using the same cushions the performers proceed to play a semi-choreographed game of peek-a-boo with the entire audience, before gradually reacting to individual babies or toddlers and playing solo games with those who seem to show enthusiasm – which is most. The signals for this generally seem to be pleased mumblings, which sometimes go in a stuttered Mexican wave as each baby reacts to the next. The music seamlessly changes for this new section and continues do so throughout, in this case switching to a suitably cheeky bassoon tune.

As the show continues a few of the little’uns become keen to join in with the fun. As the performers roll cylindrical cushions between each other, one toddler squeals with glee and holds out its hands in an attempt to receive a rolling cushion. To its delight, one of the troupe obliges. The children are clearly reacting well to the on-stage stimulation, and soon after this audience participation ice-breaker there are several parents holding back encroaching babies. Heartwarmingly, the show eventually descends into most parents letting their little ones go and proudly watching them totter onto the stage and join in. The actors are clearly very experienced with this situation and simply begin interacting with them in a confident and natural manner; some of the babies even start copying their dance moves. Occasionally there are some near misses with wandering toddlers who find themselves below the eyeline of the dancers, but everyone seems to just about avoid each other.

There is an effortless simplicity to this show, and the results are apparently very positive: happy babies equal happy parents.

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Izzie Fernandes

at 16:43 on 14th Aug 2016

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To the bouncing tune of a fairground we stumble past a row of prams which likely rivals the aisles of Mothercare. I cannot pretend to be an expert in the nuance of children’s shows, this baby friendly interpretative dance show is pleasantly surprising. Head stands, sliding, bouncing and rolling characterise a charming half an hour punctuated by childish chirrups.

If the Lithuanian Dance Theatre’s enchanting performance of 'Puzzle' is not the perfect excuse for three fully grown adults to prance around onstage clad in colorful tunics, then I do not know what is. The vibrant spectacle is received with delight by its 0-3 year old target audience.

Despite being two decades older than the majority of the room, I soon become the most puzzled amongst them. Sitting before this brightly lit, thrust, studio stage I am totally bemused by the hypnotic power with which Birute Baneviciute’s choreography absorbs these children.

Half an hour is a significant portion of time if you have only been on the planet for a handful of years yet these three highly energised dancers entrance the infants. Grins plastered on their faces; the company perform various synchronised dance routines engaging with the kids throughout.

Naturally, my age and size mean I am not lucky enough to participate in the rolling around and squealing onstage excitement. That said, from my seat, I felt pleasantly engaged with the winking, kiss blowing and peek-a-booing onstage.

The stage is transformed into a soft play area. In a largely synchronised manner, the company incorporates squashy scenery into their swaying and bounding dance routines. From large geometric shapes to fruit and flowers, the versatility of the scenery is impressive; presumably more so if you're only a couple of feet tall. Brightly coloured, different sizes, worthy of wearing, throwing and bouncing – I imagine the scope for discovery this would pose to my childhood self.

Colorful and sweet; if the show were confectionary, it would be Jelly Babies. Perfect entertainment for every tot this Fringe. The playful performance has a wholesome atmosphere. I leave heart warmed by proud parents' efforts to video the magical moments enjoyed by their cherubs during the show; this will no doubt serve as fantastic footage for 21st birthday parties in years to come.

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