REVIEW – Leaper – A Fish Tale (The Lowry Theatre, Salford)

Leaper - The Fish Tale by Tucked In Theatre Company
Leaper – The Fish Tale by Tucked In Theatre Company

It’s quite alarming to find out that around 90% of global fish stocks are over-exploited, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation. In severely depleted areas, the only way to restore fish stock is by introducing protected reserves. However, considering a massive 72% of our planet is water and only 4% of this is currently protected, it becomes evident that without urgent measures we may be the last generation to catch food from the oceans.

It’s really important to educate the younger generation to care for their planet from an early age and Tucked In Theatre Company explore this idea through their production of Leaper – A Fish Tale. There are no blinding statistics or complicated language but charming puppetry, original music and a set with a wonderful hand-crafted quality. The energetic cast of three: Lizzie Franks, Philip Bosworth and Robert Welling tell the story of Leaper the fish and the beautiful but perilous ocean world that she inhabits.

Through the eyes of a little girl, we follow Leaper on her journey to encounter the ever growing natural and man-made dangers in our ocean. After accidentally falling into the water to retrieve her dropped prawn cocktail crisp packet, the little girl makes friends with Leaper as they explore the waterways together, travelling from the tiny stream to the vast ocean and back again.

The young audience were engrossed by Claire Harvey’s wonderful puppet design featuring a school of fish, a noisy duck and a formidable brown bear. Jim Harbourne’s warm and upbeat musical score provided continuity and familiarity for the little ones and Annie Brooks’ design had a real home-made appeal. However, there was a lot of story to cram into a short running time of 60 minutes and with frequent set changes, some of the sections felt rushed. The young members of the audience would certainly benefit from a slower pace which would give them time to reflect and understand.

Following our visit to watch Leaper – A Fish Tale,  Thing 2 was busting with questions about fish and our oceans, proving that theatre can be a powerful way to tap into a child’s understanding of the world and our environment. Tucked In theatre have to be applauded for their imaginative approach in tackling a complex subject and their ability to make it accessible to children. After all, our children are the future generation and the earlier we educate them about our planet – the brighter their future.

-Kristy Stott

 Leaper is showing next at the Blackwood Miners Institute in Caerphilly on the 30th April 2016 and at 96 Shenley Road in Borehamwood on the 2nd May 2016.