From the minute the audience take their seats in the theatre, the show chosen to relaunch the Weston Studio, a Dip and Fall Back and Bristol Old Vic co-production of Anansi’s Big Big Adventure, is dynamic, playful, and fun.
Winston Pyke’s Anansi, the winsome trickster and storyteller, moves around the space like the folkloric spider he represents. He break dances, walks on his hands, spins, scuttles and dances across all corners of stage, with an appealing glint in his eye that mesmerises the youngest audience members from the start.
And this is a narrative creatively told throughout, not only with words, but with movement, dance, and bundles of humour. The domestic setting of a kitchen is transformed by imagination – an oven becomes a lion; house plants turn into a thick jungle, and a cabinet becomes a waterfall.
We are given a play within a play, as Anansi, Tacoma the mother and their daughter Tosin perform an adventure from an imaginative world that delights us, but them, too.
It’s a place of comfort that you feel is an important part of the DNA woven through their family, from the original Anansi, right through to this one – his “great, great, great, great, great, great…” grandson, and beyond.
Beautiful puppetry helps to bring the story to life, and to pass on the performative traditions of oral storytelling to Anansi’s children through the generations.
Frequently bursting into celebratory dance breaks and songs, the charismatic Nadia Williams as Tacoma is, as she shouts triumphantly, “a funny mummy”. Kerry-Ann Waison performs with gusto as Tosin, and again, gives a big performance that doesn’t overpower.
At 50 minutes, the show feels well-pitched at its target age group of 4-7 year olds, who were all enraptured throughout, and joined in enthusiastically when invited to do so. There is also a beautiful late appearance from the moon that had the littlest audience members gasping in wonder.
With Anansi’s Big Big Adventure, Dip and Fall Back have created a vibrant show that brings the magic of the African and Caribbean folk tales of Anansi to life.
Anansi’s Big Big Adventure (age recommendation 4-7) is at the Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic, King St, Bristol, BS1 4ED until December 31, with 11am and 3pm shows. More information and tickets are available at www.bristololdvic.org.uk.
Main photo: Manoel Akure
Read more: Bristol Old Vic’s Weston Studio reopens
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