Go, Noah Go!

John Agard

Little Angel Theatre

From 10 November 2017 to 04 February 2018

Review by Howard Loxton

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This adaptation of poet John Agard’s children’s book, illustrated by Judy Brown, returns to the Little Angel (where it has had earlier successful runs) to play right through the Christmas period and beyond.

Agard transfers the story of Noah and his Ark to the Caribbean where a male and a female god have got fed up with the humans they created and decided to rid the earth of them—except for one family whom the goddess thinks worth saving.

Director Peter Savizon stages it in a very direct and straightforward manner. Designer Lyndie Wright sets up a totem-like standard on each side of the stage to represent the gods and stacks three chests draped with painted clothes between them. These in turn will act as settings and when the cloths are removed they can be put together to form an Ark that almost fills the stage and can itself then be filled with animals, serried ranks of them, two by two.

It is a very simple story: Gods angry at the way the humans they created make war and damage their planet, Noah selected for survival and given his instructions seeks advice from a wise old man and then the ark building, the flood and its ending.

Duane Gooden and Amanda Wright are both performers and puppeteers, moving easily between person and puppet performance, gods and humans, acting out live or voicing their doll-like smaller versions of Noah and his wife and their children Shem and Japheta. They make delightful harmony singing Savizon and Sandra Bee’s songs unaccompanied.

Amanda Wright goes off as Mrs Noah and reappears bent over a walking stick as a blind old man. Duane Gooden, voicing a miniature Noah wielding the tool the old man gives him then Noah in the flesh, draws vocal support from the audience to aid his ark building.

Go Noah Go! has is strong on participation whether joining in a repetitive chant or helping to load the animals. The wind brings the first creatures but most are passed hand-to-hand, row-by-row through the theatre. The youngsters are eager to be part of it and a few at the front help create waves as the water rises.

This isn’t a show with elaborate puppetry, it is more like a child playing with its toys: its energy comes from the performers and their skill in involving the children, from its lively songs with their calypso touch and from the children’s own imaginative investment. Its rhyming verse makes the story flow and the script is full of nice touches: the wind identifying itself as “the whisper in your roof,” the elephant who crossing the deck upsets the boat’s balance, the pouring of rum to “christen” the ark.

With a target audience of 5 to 10 years old, it lasts an hour, plus an interval halfway, so isn’t too demanding for the younger ones. The audience I watched with were riveted right through. Over tens could find it too juvenile but accompanying parents and carers will find it charming.