Skitterbang Island

Based on an original idea by Danny Vice-Holt Written by Phil Porter and Martin Ward
Polka Theatre and Little Angel Theatre
Little Angel Theatre

Skitterbang (puppet designed and made by Sue Dacre)

A magical-looking set, water reflections rippling, invites audience expectations of Skitterbang Island.

They certainly are met by its central character: the long-eared, winged character with a “bouncy bum” who lives there. Just take a look at him: a favourite with a gremlin face.

Aimed at “early years” children, it is a very simple story of a little girl in a red coat and hat who is sailing on her uncle Captain Abner’s ship when they are wrecked. They wash up on the island, meet its intriguing owner and then sail away on another boat.

It is charmingly presented with narrative and dialogue all sung by puppeteers Sani Muliaumaseali’I, Natalie Raybould and Lowri James. Their voices are somewhat operatic in delivery and sometimes more rich in sound that clarity but there’s not much there to miss in any case and the young audience it is aimed at seemed enchanted.

The shipwreck, with the captain and his niece swept around on driftwood, looks particularly effective and there is lots of clever use of puppets of different scale and type. The young audience particularly liked it when Skitterbang was close up among them.

The music is by Martin Ward and Skitterbang Island is directed by Peter Glanville, former Artistic Director at Little Angel and now in the same post at Polka on the other side of London.

It was originally commissioned by Polka in 2010, bringing together the resources of the two companies, and is now seen at the partnership venue. Is this a forerunner of more co-production between the companies? It would certainly make sense for, though they produce work for similar audiences, their catchment areas are very different.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton