This worthy and engaging theatrical interpretation of the Greenpeace films “There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom” and “There’s a Monster in My Kitchen” has the power to turn young audiences into eco warriors.
Writer James Sellick has expanded his stories to include “There’s a turtle in my bathroom”, allowing the show to engage in the issues of over-fishing and plastic waste as well as the original themes of deforestation for creation of palm oil and deforestation to grow animal feed for the meat industry.
Maia Kirkman-Richards’ puppets are a joy and a delight, with an incredibly lifelike hand-and-rod little girl as the lead character, who even seems to have real hair, which looked like that of her puppeteer Ajjaz Awad (“she’s got hair like mine,” squealed my daughter). This girl first encounters a Jaguar as she’s making her lunch from ingredients selected from a beautifully crafted wooden fridge (designed by Kate Bunce). The Jaguar appears as both a fully articulated hand-and-rod puppet and also as looming bright eyes and a snake-like tail manipulated by a second puppeteer, Aya Nakamura. However despite the sense of threat, heightened by the musical score, it turns out he is only hanging out in her house because his natural habitat is being destroyed.
The repetition of each animal the girl encounters being in her house because humans are destroying their natural habitats helps to get the message home to the young audience and although my 9-year-old didn’t full understand why the Jaguar’s forest was being destroyed, because the portrayal of the meat production process was perhaps a little too abstract for her (“it’s so farmers can find their animals more easily,” she replied when I asked her afterwards), it certainly provides the beginning of a conversation.
The musical score by Dominic Sales is so affecting it had me fighting back tears at several points and there are some beautiful moments of theatricality; like when a parachute silk is extended the full length of the aisle and rod fish puppets flit underneath it, becoming plastic bottles.
The show ends with the audience directly invited to give their own solutions to the problems raised in the piece, which included on the afternoon I was there “put a big bin in the sea so the plastic can go in it,” and “start a petition to ban palm oil”. The eagerness of the children to put up their hands is a sign of the show’s success in communicating the key messages. This is a must-see for any family that wants to start a frank discussion with their kids about how to make positive changes that could save the planet.
Written by James Sellick
Directed by Maia Kirkman-Richards
Set and costumes designed by Kate Bunce
Lighting designed by Sherry Coenen
Puppets designed by Maia Kirkman-Richards
Music composed and sound designed by Dominic Sales
Creative Producer Miranda Pitcher
Performed by Ajjaz Awad & Aya Nakamura
Stage managed by Verity Clayton
Rang-Tan voiceover by Emma Thompson
Jag-Wah voiceover by Doc Brown
Turtle voiceover by Rag’n’Bone Man
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