Silliness and a slice of history for your little ones: for one week only at the Arcola Theatre
Let’s get one thing clear: The Three Sillies is silly. It is very silly. It is silly in spades.
This is immersive theatre at its least pretentious. Small Truth Theatre have, for one week only, transformed the studio space in Hackney’s Arcola Theatre into a English village May Day fete. Children are led in by a Pied Piper-esque troop of Morris dancers where they are met with a tombola, a ‘splat-a-rat’, a hoopla, a beanbag toss and a village tavern in this sweetly, nuanced world of bunting and coconut shies.The actors engage with the children (and their parents) brilliantly- all generic country drawls and old-fashioned jokes.
The little ones at our show were enthralled by it all and sat patiently when the story- based on an old fashioned folk tale and set in 1914- was brought to life with puppets, live music and inventive staging. The splat-a-rat morphs into a bed and breakfast for a tale of awkward bed sharing, the hoopla seamlessly becomes a ship for a channel crossing and the village tavern, in one stunningly evocative moment, becomes a battle scape of the First World War- where toy soldiers are silently dropped on the floor and, movingly and un-prompted, the children run to pick them up.
There is a vein of seriousness that runs through all this silliness. For every tale of a cow stuck on a roof and some cross-dressing Frenchmen who are convinced they have captured the moon in their pond- there is a wordless puppet dressed in military garb and fallen toy soldiers collected in little wooden boxes. Much of this would have been too subtle for the children to understand and yet it’s effectiveness is such that you leave convinced parents will be fielding questions about it all on the way home.
Though there is nothing groundbreaking on show here there is charm in abundance and a commendable nod to the historic period in the year of the WW1 Centenary. Ultimately, this is good, old-fashioned fun. And silliness. Don’t forget that.
The Three Sillies runs until Saturday 1 November. 11am and 3pm performances daily (no 3pm performances on Saturdays). Suitable for ages 2 +. Catch it while you can: arcolatheatre.com