The Boy Who Fell in Love with the Stars, by White Hippos Productions, was performed on Wednesday January 22 as part of the From Devon With Love Festival.
I entered the intimate theatre not knowing what to expect. An air of mystery envelops the audience as we take our seats with just a solitary man (dressed in pyjamas) on a dark stage. The lighting played a key role and revved the anticipation for the play to begin. In the shadows the man stands up from his kneeling position and begins to interact with the audience before introducing the play and his character. Mark Ashmore’s characterisation is very effective as he begins the dialogue in a somewhat disturbing child-like voice, blurring the audience’s perception of whether he is a man or boy. Ashmore’s performance is not entirely serious and there are definite ‘tongue-and-cheek’ moments thereby giving a comedic twist to this dramatic performance.
The man begins to tell the tale of a dream he once had when he was a boy, where he embarked on an adventure across the universe with his father. The use of multimedia is very well executed as the ‘boy’ is projected onto the screen on the back of the wall and appears to interact with his older self. The imagery of all the stars in the universe I found quite captivating and effectively created an atmosphere of intrigue.
One of the most entertaining parts of the performance involves the man seemingly telling off his younger self for playing around on the screen, which provoked laughter from the audience. Although, the comedic character of the play conflicts with a more sombre theme as the man in the pyjamas tells the audience that his father is now permanently at peace with the stars.
“Just because you cannot see the stars, don’t forget they’re there…And then he was gone…”
This very short production, which only lasted half an hour, hinted at a message: that our wild and adventurous imaginations of our childhood should not be lost as we get older. Instead they should continue in order to allow us to take risks and feel more alive.
The practical simplicity of the play worked very well and allowed the audience to easily engage with what was going on onstage, whilst also provoking an involvement at another level. I am eager to see the next production by White Hippos.
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