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Mischief (Leeds)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Before any preconceptions are formed, Mischief is not just a children’s show, it is for anyone whose inner-child is itching to get out and laugh through a performance that manages to be both charmingly clever and plain silly in equal measures.

Through the course of 65 minutes Theatre-Rites’ talented performers encapsulate the fun of a group of children exploring some mysterious long, chip-like bricks, not unlike the floats you see at swimming baths. Mischief is not narrative driven, but instead uses these rubber ‘chips’ as a stimulus for the performers to dance with and use in numerous ingenious and hilarious ways that had all ages of the audience smiling if not laughing. Though these interactions are simple, it is Arthur Pita’s choreography that elevates the action to form both slapstick, displaying marvellous comic timing from Rachel Donovan’s clumsy outcast, and beautiful dance pieces, such as Maho Ihara’s innocent contact with one of the foam ‘chips’.

An original soundtrack composed by Charlie Winston is played live throughout the performance by the very capable and charismatic Phil King. King acts as a potential narrator for the silent actors, often giving them voice and sound effects that greatly add to the comedy of their relationships and interactions. The soundtrack is entertaining, if slightly too urban hip-hop in some instances for much younger viewers to appreciate. However this is a small part of what is largely an inventive use of instrumental and vocal sounds that is well-rounded and above all fun.

Visually the performance stands out, with bright colours of both the props and costume that fit comfortably within its childish appeal. The set is minimal, occasionally being filled with long foam chips that drop down from the fly. It is clear that both visual artist Sophia Clist and lighting designer Guy Haare collaborated effectively to pull off some eye catching spectacles. In particular was a three to four minute lighting change which highlighted the set in such a variety of changing colours that both adult and child alike were captivated like it were bonfire night in the theatre.

Mischief has been devised spectacularly by Sue Buckmaster and her cast effortlessly pull of a performance of fun. Never have I seen such a simple and enjoyable show that caters to all but those with a heart of stone. Go and see Mischief this half-term even if you pretend you’re going for the kids’ sake, it will be hard to wipe the smile off your face.

- Alex Clark


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