Monday, 26 November 2018

REVIEW: Land of Nod at the Cockpit Theatre

Moon on a Stick’s Land of Nod presents a wonderful story of questioning where we go when we fall asleep through puppetry and song. The three ‘Sandies’ help Isaac- a puppet boy- get to sleep despite numerous distractions. It has a beautiful concept but at times lacked energy from the direction. Several moments of the production could have been much faster paced as it was not entirely gripping for children as young as three.

Unfortunately, the musical element of the show was unimpressive and under-rehearsed. The sound was of bad quality and must have been difficult for the actors to hear because the songs were mostly out of time. It seemed unnecessary having one Sandy mime playing the guitar and strumming it, untuned, at the end of the song. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this was and think it should be reconsidered for future performances. Occasionally the lyrics were lost over the backing track, which was a shame as they would have been an interesting musical break to the production if they had had more work.

Land of Nod was a visual masterpiece with a stunning set. The sky was scattered with colourful lit up impressive umbrellas that made the black box space glow magnificently. The dreamy beach scene was a stand out and highly effective, especially the showering of glitter over the audience. The use of puppetry was to be commended, with fantastic execution of Isaac’s movement in contrast to the three-piece puppet of the ‘magestical’ Sandman. Both puppets were an asset to the play. There is no denying the effort the actors put in to engage with the audience, however, some of the participation could have been more exciting. Introducing more upbeat actions may have prevented some of the younger children becoming distracted towards the end. I was impressed with their interesting approach to the multi-sense interactions, including giving the children things to smell, taste and feel. It was a unique touch that complimented the show.

Overall, Land of Nod has a lot of potential but needs more development. I
believe it is a story worth telling but perhaps lacks a message or purpose in the narrative. The idea of ‘blowing away clouds’ to clear your mind could have been taken further to reassure children that bedtime anxieties can be dealt with. The show has the basics- humour, a good fantasy plot and striking design but more characterisation could be added to increase its depth and enthusiasm.

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £7

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