How to Catch a Star – The Ark – Review by Lesley-Ann Whelan,
Dublin 5th December-30th December
Branar Teatar do Phaisti return to the Ark with their adaptation of Irish author Oliver Jeffers’ best selling picture book “How to Catch a Star”. Jeffers’ books are beloved by children world-wide and this is the second adaptation of one of his books this theatre company has produced, the first being “The Way Back Home” which was at the Ark in 2014.
This production is directed by Marc MacLochlainn, with a score by Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames) and is performed by puppeteers, Grace Kiely and Neasa NiChuanaigh. “How to Catch a Star” is the story of a little boy who loved stars and wishes he had one of his own for a friend. He decides that he will try and catch one.
Fans of Jeffers’ work will appreciate how close the company have stuck to his illustrations. It is a beautiful production, the set designed to perfection by Maeve Clancy. From the moment the play started, and the stars appeared on the back wall, the children were mesmerised. The boys’ adventure means that he comes in contact with seagulls, worms and the natural world. A favourite moment for the younger members of the audience was the bird trying to catch a worm and then the same bird stealing the boy’s lunchbox. Because Branar are attempting to present a story through images with no words, there is an emphasis on simplicity, on imagination and in the beauty of emotion. This is an incredibly moving piece of theatre. To watch the puppeteers is as mesmerizing as watching the puppets themselves, as they become part of the story with their movement, facial expressions and little noises.
This show, running until the end of the Christmas season, is the perfect antidote to the sensory overload of the traditional Panto. For very small children it is an excellent introduction to going to the theatre. Branar pride themselves in their work for children and creating a piece of art that will amaze these little first-time theatre goers. The story will also resonate with the big kids in the audience as it is a tale of never giving up on your dreams.