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Sky in the Pie

by on 18 February 2020

Circus Pentameters

Sky in the Pie

by The Feathers of Daedalus, based on poems by Roger McGough

The Feathers of Daedalus at OSO Arts Centre, Barnes until 22nd February

Review by Heather Moulson

Seated in an open set of sophisticated hangings of moons and stars, plus atmospheric lighting and a dry ice effect, this clever children’s production gets off to a promising start.

The Feathers of Daedalus is a flexible and skilled circus company consisting of young performers. Four men and two women interpret Roger McGough’s children’s collection, Pie in the Sky, plus later works, with elegance and insight, accompanied by keyboard and drums.

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A fairly simple plot beginning with a young girl reluctant to get out of bed for the day ahead; then, amidst a backdrop of juggling stools, the company prepares for a typical school day.

What makes this production such a joy are the entertaining actions and witty poetic lines spoken by the pupils as they struggle with self-doubt.

The use of the props by performers is very slick, and we are treated to a headmaster with a cushion for a head, signifying an inability to observe what is going on in his school. On an autobiographical note, Roger was the ‘star’ pupil, entrusted to look after Raymond, a sickly new boy. However, Roger finds himself joining in the taunting of this troubled boy, who does not return to school.

The remorse Roger feels afterwards, perhaps strikes a chord of shame in all of us. Haven’t we as children all behaved in that brutal way?

Besides taking text from Sky in the Pie, there are also readings from Mr McGough’s other collection, Poetry Pie. In the improvised classroom, the question of should poetry rhyme stirred an interesting reaction from the young (and not so young) audience.
In this sequence we are treated to a unicycle performer with a bugle, while at the same time the subject of crotchets and keyboards is raised. Further skilful juggling follows during the reading of other poems, namely The Sound Collector, The Lollipop Man, and Tofu Eating Tiger, poems full of wit.

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Then a succession of quick witted poems follows sung at a memorable pace, Does a Babysitter Really Sit on Little Tots, Wouldn’t It Be Funny If You Didn’t Have a Nose (put over in an hilarious sequence), Here Come The Dinner Ladies, and then lastly the title poem of this slick production, Sky in the Pie.

The climax of the show is The Midnight Skaters, which creates the impression of knives and forks coming alive. This involves a cast member practising an amazing balancing sequence on a golden circle, representing a beautiful plate.

The wonderful poem I Wanted a Puppy is followed by The Girl Who Became A Book, accompanied by a number of authentic props that adds to the magic of this company’s presentation.

The time sequence goes from morning to night. While we follow our heroine to bed, we have talking pillows accompanied by some edgy acrobatics, and a misunderstood scarecrow.

The poem, Tomorrow Has Your Name on It, received a great reception and ovation for the performers, with a nod to the sound and lighting operator. Then applause for the creative director sitting in the audience, who plans to tour this highly imaginative and carefully crafted show.

We were united in hoping it will be shared and loved by children nationwide.

Heather Moulson
February 2020

Photography courtesy of The Feathers of Daedalus Circus

One Comment
  1. As a reader, I’ve been interested in the connection between circus and literature for a while now, but I think this is the first concrete example of poetry influencing circus that I’ve read about. I might have to take a proper look at the poems described here – Roger McGough is a poet I’ve been getting into lately, which is partly why I was attracted to the post. Thanks for sharing.

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