The Oily Cart company excels in producing theatre for young, neglected audiences—babies, two to four year olds, and young people with profound learning disabilities.
Its latest show, In a Pickle, is a coproduction with the Royal Shakespeare Company for this year’s World Shakespeare Festival. It’s a measure of the respect the company is held in.
Created for two to four year olds, the show is a wonderfully liberal reworking of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It features gorgeous live flute music and a fabulously colourful and tactile set and costumes.
Before the young audience and their adult guests are taken into the theatre space, everyone is met by a cast dressed in Shakespearean sheep-human costumes. The children are invited to choose a piece of sheepy gear to wear.
Once inside the young audience is encouraged to smell the scent of flowers in the sheep’s fleece and touch their newly shorn wool. They are well engaged in the show by the time a lost baby is discovered.
As so often in Oily Cart shows, the adult characters are at a loss. They require the help of the children as to what a baby needs and where it needs to go.
Thanks to the ingenuity of the children, the baby is soon sailed to a castle where Shakespeare’s frozen queen—and a happy ending—await.
In A Pickle plays at London’s Stratford Circus, 19–23 June, and Newcastle’s Northern Stage, 27-30 June. Go to www.oilycart.org.uk