Dynamo Theatre, Lili’s Diary Salisbury Playhouse

Review in Issue 15-3 | Autumn 2003

Recently, some children’s theatre has been amongst the best I’ve seen. Whether it’s because it engages its audience directly and simply, whether because it tends to avoid the psychological whilst still retaining a depth, or whether it’s because there are a number of imaginative practitioners in the field, I don’t know. Whatever, this show is stunning in its concept, design and execution.

Combining acrobatics and movement with naturalistic acting and speech on a flexible yet representational set which allows the actors to climb, swing and jump, much as children play, Dynamo Theatre from Canada tell the story of nine-year-old Lili confronting her fears about growing up, her first boyfriend, her worries about her parents’ arguments, and her ill friend. It was performed with enormous humour and a poetic intensity which was both deeply moving and yet comic.

The sequence in which Lili dreams and the set turns into a blue sea with a tiny ship floating on it was beautifully and simply done. By contrast, the competitive nature of the playground was full of slapstick humour and knockabout comedy. It also slyly commented on the relationships between boys and girls and how there is always the fall guy, he who gets slapped. Since the actors were adults, this also looked forward to the adult world and the ways in which the structures of the playground continue into adulthood.

The children around me responded with gusto, at times silent in wonderment, at other times laughing at the gags and the pratfalls. As did I.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jun 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-3
p. 27