'Dogs Don't Do Ballet' - Little Angel Theatre
Inspired by the book ‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’ by Anna Kemp – which is filled with charming illustrations and scratchy pencil lines – director David Duffy has created a genuinely funny show for 2-6 year olds at the Little Angel Theatre.
A camp, cross-dressing ballet teacher quickly wins the audience over with improvised and perceptive humour, which soon gets the most reserved of dads belly laughing. The two actors whip-up a pantomime style frenzy and the children quickly ease into shouting anything and everything at the stage.
The story is one about a dog who dreams of being a ballet dancer. He overcomes the repressive stereotype that dogs can’t dance and, with much determination, eventually finds himself in a beautiful pink tutu performing for a delighted audience. The play flits between the miniature and life size, offering two parallel realities.
Well crafted using sponge, leather joints and wooden carved faces, all the puppets are controlled using short rods. Their aesthetic is friendly, rounded and cute. The manipulation is delicate and the movement of the pug stylised in an expressive way, with flicking legs and elegant pirouettes.
The form of storytelling is straightforward, although it lacks any dramaturgical experimentation. Always using miniature people to tell the story feels like the easiest option, and at times I'm left craving exploration into other forms of puppetry.
‘Dogs Don’t Do Ballet’ clearly engages its young audience, providing them with a satisfyingly transformational journey. At the same time, non-patronising humour offers relief for older members of the audience. Although formulaic, it is well rounded and ultimately offers the encouraging message that you should follow your dreams.
A Little Angel Theatre production
Directed by David Duffy
Adapted by David Duffy and Andrea Sadler
Set and props designed by Tim Sykes
Puppets and costumes designed and made by Keith Frederick