Babar the Elephant

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Babar the Elephant
Published 13 Aug 2016

Jean de Brunhoff’s story of the little elephant Babar is brought charmingly to life in this production by In Sight Theatre Troupe, who work with learning disabled and non-learning disabled adults. It’s performed enthusiastically by a capable cast and set to Francis Poulenc’s 1940 piano score. 

Zara-Jayne Arnold narrates the story, while the other cast members use physicality and dance to bring the tale to life. They form themselves into giant elephants and cars as Babar’s mother is killed by hunters, and Babar himself runs away to a nearby town. He’s taken in by a kind old lady who dresses him and teaches him how to drive. Soon, though, he returns to the animal kingdom and is made king of the elephants. 

Poulenc’s music, originally for piano and narrator, is fun and whimsical – a delightful accompaniment to the children’s story, even if it isn’t Poulenc’s finest work. Isabelle Trub plays the complex music perfectly on a little upright piano, an excellent performance in itself.

But combined with the performers, some hand-drawn projections and even a modicum of audience participation (nothing too strenuous), In Sight have created a great piece of work with a strong ethos behind it. It’s a joy to slip into the animal world for 40 minutes.