This sweet production for children age 3-5 nicely captures the innocence of the Enid Blyton stories that its Famous Five-style ‘isn’t it jolly in the countryside?’ title evokes. Devised by dance ensemble Indepen-dance 4 with director Anna Newell, composer David Goodall and choreographer Stevie Prickett, it makes a gentle splash.
Adam Sloan, Blair Flucker, Emma Smith and Julie Spence are four friends enjoying a camping trip. After discovering pairs of wellies, they play together, having fun, falling out and making up. Their rapport and wide-eyed wonderment as they throw leaves in the air is engaging. The innocent pleasure of discovery is a strong thread, without ever over-complicating the show.
Prickett’s choreography is fluid and joyful as, through dance, the ensemble discover that competition isn't nearly as good as as friendship. Goodall’s playful, freewheeling sound design is a star of the production. It scampers along when a few sequences slightly lose focus. The show’s spare, simple design is primary coloured and eye-catching. It opens with some dancing tents that had the older children in peals of laughter when I saw it, but which proved to be a little ‘in-tents’ (sorry, sorry) for kids at the toddler end of the age spectrum.
Ultimately, the four performers don’t exactly “go wild” across the show’s 25-minute running time. Newell’s production is more of a gentle frolic through some universal themes. It gets a little repetitive at times—it could do with more welly—but the dancing is also uplifting and charming.