We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy several theatre shows this week. On Thursday we visited the award-winning Hope Mill Theatre to see The Forest of Forgotten Discos.
As we arrived at the intimate venue I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We had visited The Lowry the night before and whilst the contrast was evident, our welcome was personal and friendly and they had a lovely bar and eating space.
Contact theatre company and writer Jackie Hagan have joined forces to present The Forest of Forgotten Discos. Other than the show being about a little girl and three bears (no, not that story!) I didn’t really know what the production would be like.
Before making our way into the performance area, one of the characters joined us in the bar area, inviting us to the show. The character, cleverly named Alexa, was an almost robotic personal assistant comprising of forgotten technology. She told us before we could venture into the forest that some of us would have to be “scanned”. The first child she chose to scan was my nine year old, Jack, who promptly looked at me in thinly disguised horror. Socially awkward like his mum, he doesn’t enjoy being the centre of attention and so was relieved when she quickly scanned him and said he would grow up to be an evil genius. An accurate assessment I thought, and Jack was strangely pleased with this analysis.
Like Jack, I’m not a fan of interactive theatre and so I wasn’t sure whether we would enjoy the performance. Meanwhile, my other son Ben went bounding in doing the little bear dance we were taught and was desperate to be chosen to be scanned!
Throughout the show I was pleasantly surprised. The writer Jackie Hagan told us prior to the show that she wanted to create something accessible to all, and how important it was for children to see diversity on stage. The characters integrated sign language throughout the performance, and yet it didn’t detract from the story at all. I think it’s fantastic they’ve made the show so inclusive.
The production was funny and engaging and really quite clever. With an important message at it’s heart, the show was a hit with all of us, most surprisingly with Jack. He told me afterwards that it was the best thing he’d ever seen. Praise indeed! With a bit of gentle persuasion he was even up dancing and laughing at the end. It was no surprise at all to me that Ben loved it. The show was right up his street and his hand would shoot up the minute they wanted a volunteer. He laughed throughout and talked about the bears all the way home.
The cast were all very good and equally engaging in their own way. Paislie Reid as Red was particularly memorable.
The show ran for approximately an hour without an interval which I felt was the perfect length for children.
Running up until the 23rd December, you can grab your tickets now from contactmcr.com
We were offered complimentary tickets for the purposes of this review but as always opinions are my own.