“Mum, are those doors REALLY magic?” said my six-year-old girl to me solemnly, half way through the show. After witnessing The Magic Doors at Tobacco Factory Theatres today, you can understand why a small child would be mesmerised and a little amazed by all the visual trickery, creative use of the staging and technical wizardry that took place in this lovely little introduction to dance theatre for four to eight year olds.
Penny, Olly and Max are three young friends who reveal the secrets behind the three apparently normal white doors that are centre stage. Imagination is the key to revealing secret worlds, going on underwater adventures and even making friends with the seemingly scary school bully character who is forever at their heels throughout their adventures. The company make clever use of animation projected onto screens in the doors to make these worlds come alive and to make the young audiences eyes go wide in amazement.
This piece was performed entirely without dialogue, as it was aiming to showcase dance performance and how the medium can tell the story through expressive movement and clever use of the set. There were a few moments when my six year old did lose it a little, wasn’t quite sure what was going on and started to drift.
In my experience of taking my two girls aged three and six to the theatre, around 45 minutes is a good amount of time for a show to last. Any more than this and they can start to get fidgety as their concentration span reaches its limit, unless there is lots of audience participation. This show checked in at just under an hour. Perhaps for the younger end of the age range this show is aimed at it could have done with some fine-tuning and tweaking to trim it down a little; an hour felt just a little too much. That said, the rest of the audience were often giggling loudly at the action on stage, and it was clear the young audience were pretty engaged. There were some really clever moments; the dancing from the youthful performers was superb and there was a scene during the underwater adventure when my girl could just not figure out how the dancers seemed to be swimming in mid air behind the doors!
If you are stuck for ways of entertaining your little ones this half term, then you could do far worse than taking them to see The Magic Doors. It seems like the weather is about to turn a little grey too over the next few days, so this vibrant and colourful show might be just what you need to brighten things up.
The Magic Doors shows at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 2nd June
- Review by Karen Blake