'The Flycycle and Submercycle' - Pif-Paf
"No need to panic Monty, we’re going to Luxembourg!" comes Captain Bigshot’s voice over the wind, as he expertly navigates his Flycycle across Sheffield’s Tudor Square. Despite the miniature explorer’s certainty, the intrepid party gets lost and finds itself in South America.
To Bigshot’s relief, Monty’s mastery of the Flycycle horn and enviable wing-beating technique means a shark attack on the descent is skilfully avoided. On landing Valerian, the Flycycle steward, has two new beatific explorers lined up in the departure lounge, complete with brightly coloured hats and a feather duster for tickling the clouds.
Meanwhile in the Peace Gardens, and under the watchful sea-faring eyes of Captain Calypso, an altogether more briny adventure is underway. The Submercycle steward, Pearl, shepherds two members of a lengthening queue of knee-high trailblazers, towards the waiting vessel. Out of all the deep-sea desires of the day (from finding the portal to Atlantis to stroking a starfish), Ellie’s plan to discover some under water rabbits may stretch even Captain Calypso to her limits.
"I like people with big ambitions," smiles Pearl at the two upturned faces. "Hold your noses ladies, decompression starting!" Five minutes and six underwater vents, four giant pearls and a troupe of underwater rabbits later, the Submercycle returns to release its triumphant passengers.
The Flycycle and The Submercycle are two madcap cycle contraptions that showcase Pif-Paf’s wonderful ability to create beautiful but functional objects around which a theatrical world can revolve. The Flycycle sports beatable canvas wings (for gliding and avoiding turbulence), a propeller (controllable from the cockpit and for taking off), two horns of different tones (for chasing away birds of various sizes) and a broom stick (as a back-up, should the primary mode of acceleration fail).
The emerald green Submercycle has controllable side paddles (for steering around rocks and shipwrecks), a working periscope (for a better view in murky water), a pincer (for grabbing specimens) and special pressure-withstanding port holes. In both cases impressive craftsmanship combines with a narrative inspired by the kids’ own imaginations to create the perfect springboard for a five minute runaway carousal ride for two that’s different every time.
The central Sheffield backdrop worked perfectly and all the children seemed to love the experience. The Flycycle and Submercycle worlds may have benefited from further development of some of the more enticing aspects of the characters (for example, Valerian’s thwarted attempts to ride the Flycycle), but overall, both child-sized and adult-sized explorers went home happy and inspired.
The Flycycle and The Submercycle were in action during the Sheffield Children's Festival