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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Look! See! Explore! Discover! - A Review of I Theatre's Round the Moon, Blue the Sky

"Questions... Questions... Questions..." said Smallest Dragon.
"Answers! Answers! Answers!" said Twiglet.

Enter the fantastical world of Smallest Dragon and her forest friends Twiglet and Leaf. The night is young and Smallest Dragon has just begun her explorations of the world around her. She discovers that the moon is round and that the sky is blue. But that's only the beginning; she is soon sought out by her friends Twiglet and Leaf. Twiglet has recently been extremely disturbed by a new phenomenon - she cannot come to terms that leaves are not only green, but that they can also be red or brown. It is up to the wise Smallest Dragon to help set things right.
Beautiful sets and dazzling costumes depict the magical forest environment.
I Theatre's latest play, Round the Moon, Blue the Sky, is a distinct departure from its previous productions. Director Brian Seward told Parenting on Purpose that he wanted to experiment with this piece, given that the children's theatre scene has become increasingly "commercialised", almost in a "formularistic" manner. Round the Moon therefore takes on a completely different format from traditional plays; there is little dialogue, few side plots and hardly any instances of humour directed at the adults. But the production captures the essence of a child's world - the essential elements of exploration and play.
"Since the moon is round, no other objects can be round." - Twiglet.
In many ways, Smallest Dragon is Seward's mouthpiece. She encourages the children in the audience to Look, See, Explore and Discover. This, she says, should be the way that true learning takes place; through self-discovery and creative play - the genesis of idea formation. To emphasise the point, children were invited onstage to create new objects from shapes such as circles, triangles and rectangles. Smallest Dragon's philosophy is in stark contrast to Twiglet's rigid assumption that since the moon is round, no other objects can be round. However from another perspective, Twiglet's views represent those of a baby, whose world only consists of basic and literal elements; whereas Smallest Dragon personifies a toddler's world, where exposure to new stimuli expands on existing perspectives, thereby broadening mental concepts of the world around.  

Round the Moon is an enjoyable play; with the children in the audience happily satisfied with the simple elements of child's play such as hide and seek and peekaboo - on hindsight we would have brought our 2-year-old E as we think he would have enjoyed the bright colours on the set as well as the child-like interactions among the actors. There are also theatrical elements that both children and adults would enjoy, such as the evocatively emotive music, composed and arranged by Belinda Foo. And the surprising use of black light theatre brought a sense of mystery and awe to all around.
Our 4-year-old son Z enjoyed the black light theatre elements most and
was excitedly describing the stars that he saw on stage.
Remembering the cast. Z said he liked Twiglet best as she looked like a tree.
(He loves trees!)
Targetted at children aged 2 to 8, Round the Moon, Blue the Sky is a regional collaboration with Ming Ri Institute for Arts Education in Hong Kong and ACO Okinawa in Japan. Performers represent all three locations. After its run in Singapore, Round the Moon will then travel to Okinawa in Japan, and subsequently to Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. 

Following the completion of Round the Moon, I Theatre intends to take its operations further into the Asia Pacific region, with possible future plans to work with theatre groups in Taiwan and Korea.

Special thanks to local family portal Little Day Out for the opportunity to review this production.

Click here to read our pre-production piece "Round the Moon goes Round the Region" written for Little Day Out.

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