Review: 1001 Fireflies, Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, Red Rose Chain, November 20

Red Rose Chain's propduction of 1001 Fireflies

Red Rose Chain's propduction of 1001 Fireflies - Credit: Archant

A dark night November night is filled with light and magic at Red Rose Chain’s new multi sensory show. Made for young people with complex needs and/or multiple disabilities, this show is a transformative and beautiful experience for all its audience.

After their success with Green Children , Laura Norman and Kirsty Thorpe now present planet earth no less in the Avenue Theatre. A delicate perfume of fruits and flora fills the air, and we sit with gently lit flowering vines hanging above us. With great energy we are introduced to Peta (Kirsty Thorpe) and her friends Hector (Gareth Aled) and Hannah (Rachel McCormick) who inhabit a busy human hive of books and belongings.

Peta loves bugs! To her they are beautiful and her inspiration. Peta knows how important these tiny and often invisible creatures are and seeing a natural world in peril, it is unbearable to her. So she and her friends embark on an epic mission of rescue. However, once she loses her friends it becomes clear that she has to face her own fears.

Peta joins us in the natural world and shares her journey that transforms the space. She climbs mountains, lands in the snowy, icy wastes to converse with a polar bear and finally reaches her goal: the steaming rain forests. Her adventure doesn’t end as she learns as much about herself as the terrible problems that humans have brought upon the planet.

Each episode of this magical show, feels wondrously alive. The real- time pauses in the action develop a rhythm that connect us with inner and outer worlds of Peta. Small Peta puppets climb us, we encourage her to continue, cuddle her, help her on her way. A glorious, wise polar bear puppet made by Jimmy Grimes presents Peta’s greatest challenge. However, once he is fed fish by the audience, a snow storm magically falls, covering and connecting us all in the moment.


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The relaxed atmosphere sees the narrative as part of the audience, not happening despite them and there is great flexibility here that in itself create moments of pure theatre: An audience member joins the cast, her own teddy becomes a prop and unique and unforgettable moment happens.

1001 Fireflies sees Kirsty Thorpe and Laura Norman continue to explore and create powerful and theatrically dynamic work. At its heart is a clearly a belief that theatre has the power to transport all of us and give us all much needed light.

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Jackie Montague

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