Pleasance – Part of the Made in Scotland showcase

The first show I have seen in the Fringe this year has inevitably brought up the issue I grappled with last year – deciding how much weight to place on the merits of the artistic side of a performance and how much on its basic entertainment value. I imagine this is a problem with all art/entertainment, it just becomes more important with a kids show. At its most basic I want my 2 year old to remain engaged – not wriggling, complaining or looking around for something else to do. Remaining engaged is vital, however is there something to be said, as children get a bit older, in a show asking for a little bit more from the audience. Providing opportunities for children to pay attention to work that is not immediately grabbing may help nurture appreciation of more complex work as an adult. It all depends on what you’re after.

For me and my two year old her remaining engaged is still my main priority, however, more than last year with a one year old, I have higher hopes that either one or both of us is inspired, challenged or moved. By this set of objectives MamaBabaMe delivered well. Touching and playful it is in the main a dance piece, with live cello, backing tracks, some voice, theatre and prop work. Two female dancers roll and leap about a carpeted, enclosed circle, cuddling, crawling and dancing, emulating baby and young children’s movements and expressions using contemporary and contact improvisation dance forms while a man playing a cello presides. The dancers interacted with the little ones on the outside of the circle. At the end they brought out balloons and invited all the children to come inside the circle to play with the balloons and each other.

The audience comprised of young babies up to speaking 3 year olds. My daughter was quiet, still and intently engaged for most of the performance. Every child is different however and when the show slowed for too long the audience noise overall rose and threatened to mutiny over the circle’s barriers. Each time the pace deftly picked up just in time to save the day.

For a show entitled ‘MamaBabaMe’ and which moved me personally as a (still relatively new) mum it was interesting that not one of the performers was a mother themselves. This could have been humorously picked up on near the end when each performer put a balloon under the shirt and asked ‘mama’? ‘baba’? ‘me?’ repeatedly of each other and the audience.

If you’re after flash lights, thrills and all the frills this show is not for you. If you and your little one enjoy something more reflective, moving and a little more introspective I think you might highly enjoy it. We did.

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Katch Holmes

Note: If you’re interested in exploring the evolving process of creating MamaBabaMe and how the process is different to creating for older/adult audiences try Christine Devaney, creator of Mamababame’s workshop on Thursday 9th with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland.