Aidy The Awesome (Review – Online)

Aidy The Awesome (Review – Online)

During lockdown I tried to make a regular point of viewing and reviewing a number of shows aimed at what is known as a family audience – for which read children. Whether that was Sleeping Trees inventive home pantomimes, the inclusive mass participation events of Chickenshed or the innovative work put out by London children’s theatre specialists The Half Moon, The Unicorn and The Little Angel there was regular supply of online material to entertain, amuse and (in the best possible way) educate. Sadly, this seems to be an area which is slowly diminishing and while it is understandable that companies and venues want to concentrate on the live experience it would be a shame if it were to disappear altogether.

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The Gramophones, a female led company which develops high energy family theatre, is taking a two pronged inclusive approach with their current show Aidy The Awesome. They are currently mid-tour taking in a dozen venues around the country (click here for a list) and have also released an online recording of the piece with closed captioning and audio description options for those unable to make it to the live event. Now that’s the way to do it!

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This is a short sharp piece centred on eight year old Aidy who teams up with her granny to foil the schemes of the nefarious Ron de Chocolate (pronounced in the French fashion) while learning some valuable life lessons along the way. Unbeknownst to her, Aidy’s Granny is a member of the Super Nana’s League and possesses some super powers (flying/telepathic communication) which the youngster also turns out to possess – until nasty Ron steals them. Under Granny’s tutelage, the pair embark on a perilous mission to take back possession of what is rightfully theirs. The experience provides a useful lesson which Aidy is also able to put into practice at school when plagiarising Charlie steals her work ideas. This is a neat way of demonstrating how a real life problem can be dealt with imaginatively and sensitively.

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This is a fast moving, loud and garishly coloured comic cartoon of a show, the main USP of which is the aerial work which has been incorporated as a central feature. Awesome Aidy and Glorious Granny (Farrell Cox  and Deborah Sanderson – both very good) fly on hoists and perform other circus based stunts involving ropes and hoops as part of the mission to take back control; this is well choreographed by Gwen Hales and director Ria Ashcroft. There’s some definite “Don’t try this at home” moments which help to invest the characters with agency and lends the otherwise fairly slight narrative a sense of urgency. Some of the most obvious fun comes from Kathryn Hanke’s villain, especially the many confectionery based puns and allusions which the adults will appreciate. The quartet of performers is completed by Alice McKenna who rocks out on guitar and plays some of the more minor roles. My only real criticism is that the show ends on a dying fall when something more energetic and uplifting seemed called for.

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Bucking the compliant Disney princess trend, Aidy The Awesome, encourages youngsters aged 3 – 8, to shape their own destinies by being proactive and channelling any feelings of anger and distress into something positive and life affirming. It also shows how it is better to be kind and help others to bring out their potential (including those  which reside dormant in the chief villain) rather than harbouring a self-destructive resentment. There is a well-designed downloadable activity pack to accompany the show and help you find your own inner superhero once the performance is over. Awesome!

Production photos by Pamela Raith

Aidy The Awesome is available via Scenesaver – click here

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