Moonbird @ Pleasance Courtyard

Handprint theatre are truly inspiring their audience to take strides in the right direction with Moonbird, a children's show designed to be accessible, particularly to the deaf community

Review by Tabitha Fallace | 07 Aug 2019
  • Moonbird

This enchanting production by Handprint raises the bar for children's theatre. Designed to be accessible, particularly to the deaf community, this is a show that proves communication exists well beyond the borders of language. With a powerful message interwoven with heart-warming humour, this show can be enjoyed by young and old alike.

A young Prince is pronounced deaf and what ensues is a comical yet heartbreaking scene as “experts” attempt to fix his "deficiency". His frustration and confusion is mirrored by the unnerving aural cacophony that plays as he is poked, prodded and probed. Handprint utilise audio here to parallel Orla's struggle to appease the “experts” by proving his comprehension of what is physically impossible for him. Nadeem is particularly exceptional in conveying the young prince’s absolute intelligence and literacy without saying a word and from the offset, it is clear that for this show we must listen with our eyes more so than our ears.

Responding to his pain is the Moonbird who leads him to a magical garden where – although nervous – he starts to be at home in the company of a host of wild creatures that give him the confidence to express himself in the way he is most comfortable – through his body. These various wild characters are played with inimitable comic timing by the physically adept and easily transforming William and Marian. Throughout this heart-warming segment, the audience has multiple opportunities to pick up some sign skills that are helpfully projected along the wall at the back as well as cleverly adopted into the very movements of the animals that Orla meets. These opportunities were happily received by the wee girl next to me, who remained enthralled and mimicking the sign language even as she left the show.

Returning to the palace, Orla still struggles to be heard, his parents mistaking his newfound confidence for unintelligible excitement. They woefully ask, “But how can we be his parents?"

"Step by step", replies the Moonbird.

With this story, Handprint theatre are truly inspiring their audience to take strides in the right direction.

Moonbird, Pleasance Courtyard (Beside), until 25 Aug (not 12, 20), 10.30am, £9-8