Blown Away by Rob Biddulph is a great kids' book about three lovable penguins: Penguin Blue, her friends Jeff and Flo, and the big adventure they have when Penguin Blue receives a red kite in the post. When she flies it for the first time they get blown away together from Antarctica, and during the flight, our three heroes drag along a seal called Wilbur and a polar bear called Clive (yes, I know, but Clive has a map that shows his fishing route from the Arctic). They arrive at an island covered in jungle, have some adventures, and meet a cheeky monkey who stows away when they go back to the ice. It's delightful.
So, Metta Theatre have taken this great material and made a really first class adaptation, which was enjoyed by a full audience at the North Wall, in their studio/rehearsal space, last Saturday afternoon. Floria Da Silva was Blue and the Monkey, Arthur Parsons was Jeff and Clive, whilst Anna Larkin was Flo and Wilmer (a quick gender change there). They are all very talented indeed: Floria and Arthur using their circus skills to good effect in lots of acrobatics that had the audience gasping and applauding; and Anna is the musician, playing her accordion and leading on some likeable tunes, with words mostly taken from the book. When the script called for all six characters to be on stage at once the actors used some charming knitted puppets to fill in. There was even a bit of juggling with snowballs.
The show was advertised as being "fun for the family", and it was certainly that, and a bit more. I took Luke with me (he's nearly four) and he sat entranced throughout, joining in with the panto-like replies, shouting out "elephants" when Flo asked who in the jungle might help to blow the heroes home. I think it helped that he loves the book.
Poppy Burton-Morgan (Director) and William Reynolds (Lighting) and the rest of the Metta people can take pride in this show. Its tour is finished for this year but I hope it will return to enchant audiences next year.
On the way home I asked Luke which bit he thought was the best. He replied, "All of it."