By Rebecca Magill, Local Democracy Reporter
It was starter pistols at the ready at the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon last week, as their newest show, Ready, Steady, GO! hit the stage.
The play tells the story of a young child named Sofia, who discovers her mother’s adventurous past as a semi-professional mountain bike rider.
When she uncovers her old bike in the shed, they recreate the race together, taking the audience on an exhilarating trip through the Swiss Alps.
The scene is set by a series of brilliant props.
A clear tarpaulin is turned into a mountain range and plastic sheeting is used to represent a steep incline.
A spinning bicycle wheel gives a beautiful light show on the ceiling.
Inspired visually by the Navad 1000 Cycling Race and drawing on the music of Kraftwerk, it has been created by Polka’s Artistic Director Peter Glanville and is meant to act as an introduction to theatre for young audiences.
Having been to many performances for pre-schoolers, this did feel slightly different.
Instead of the bright lights and familiar licenced costumes and stories, it had the style and aesthetics of adult theatre.
Set in the round, with stripped back set and un-flashy costumes, five minutes into the show, I was slightly worried about how long my three-year-old would last.
But I needn’t have worried – she was glued to the spot.
With the children sitting on the floor in front of their parents, within touching distance of the actors, it must have been quite an incredible experience for a young mind.
Especially one that’s more used to seeing stage performances of her favourite characters from books or TV.
Brought to the stage in collaboration with Mapping, a European project exploring the aesthetics of Performing Arts for early childhood, it was very different from what you normally expect from children’s theatre. And that’s not a bad thing.
Ready, Steady, GO! runs until March 27 and has a suggested age range of 2 to 5 years.
To book, head to www.polkatheatre.com.
Main Picture: Jennie Eggleton, Marta Carvalho in Ready Steady Go at Polka Theatre (c) Ali Wright