A production of Ross Collins’ much loved story brings out everything that’s fun in the theatre.
An ordinary household is often a place of chaos where people go about their business in a trance. People seem to wake, wash and eventually manage to walk out of the front door to work (or school); the comings and goings of a generally ragged routine.
Although a ghost-elephant can be a lot of fun it can also be something of an inconvenience since they do take up rather a lot of space in the bed and have a tendency to be clumsy, especially when they invite other phantom elephants around for an impromptu dance. Fortunately, there are people that understand such ethereal creatures and can help to mitigate the disruption.
The Elephantom uses dance, choreography and giant expressive puppetry rather than mere language to tell the wondrous tale of a little girl caught between the bustle of the real world and the strange mischief of her ghostly, if bulbous companion. Indeed, watching the stage version, it seems far more sensible to see the story physically unfold than to read it.
The expressive puppetry of the soft marsh-mallow like elephantoms is simply joyful. They genuinely seem to float through the air and cross the boundary of the stage into the auditorium for small hands to pat and stroke for extra moments of gleeful exhilaration.
The Elephantom has all the charm of Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ and at least some of the intrigue of a Magritte surrealist painting. It’s a great theatre experience for children or intellectually disabled people that might struggle to follow an oral plot or even for people with hearing impairments, although the music and sound effects add a great deal of life to the actions.
Oddly, even though there is no actual language, you’ll understand every word.
The Elephantom is at the New London Theatre, Drury Lane, London until 6 September 2014.
Tel: 020 7452 3000