MARCH 2020 | Volume 189
The House at Pooh Corner
Adapted from A.A. Milne by Betty Knapp with revisions by Kim Selody
Carousel Theatre for Young People
Feb. 29-Mar. 23
www.carouseltheatre.ca or 604-685-6217
Winnie-the-Pooh and friends might not be the best-known characters among today’s kids 3-8, the age group recommended by Carousel for this show. My date, granddaughter Lyla, age 5 1/2, hadn’t had the Pooh books read to her but somehow knew about Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, et al. She was keen to see this show, especially because it was in the same theatre as last year’s exciting Peter Pan(https://www.vancouverplays.com/review-carousel-peter-pan-19.shtml).
Kim Selody’s production of The House at Pooh Corner isn’t as exciting. The story itself, such as it is, is gentler and quieter. The cast numbers only three, utilizing stuffed animal puppets to portray Pooh Bear and friends. A fourth participant is a different kid drawn from the audience five or six times during the show to be Christopher Robin.
From my semi-critical adult perspective the 60-minute show was rather uninspired. But most importantly, Lyla gave it two thumbs up. The least interesting element for me—getting a kid onto the stage to briefly stand around as Christopher Robin—turned out to be among Lyla’s primary fascinations. After initially resisting volunteering, she was eventually one of the chosen. Her time on stage in a yellow rain slicker will doubtlessly be a long-time positive memory.
The actors first frame the show—a frame I think was pretty much lost on the kids—as Milne (Tom Pickett), Christopher Robin’s Nanny (Advah Soudack) and his servant Tasker (Victor Mariano). The extremely thin plot involves the various characters’ losing, finding or creating a home. The dialogue, not all of it easily heard or understood, certainly whizzed by most of the kids. Their focus was the puppet-like stuffed animal characters.
The animals themselves (designed by Shawn Kettner and Patient Puppets) look pretty unexceptional, and none of the other design elements jumped out at me except the music, composed by Cathy Nosaty and directed by Arielle Balance. The brief, gentle songs are mostly unmemorable but the musical sound effects and accompaniment definitely bump up the dramatic and comic energy.
The actors, as they should, more or less disappear into the characters they handle and voice. Pickett’s Pooh Bear is quiet and gentle, Soudack’s Eeyore appropriately downbeat and gloomy. Mariano’s Tigger was, for me, definitely the star of the show, infusing it with comic energy as he bounced around on top of the others, including Kanga and little Roo, and especially big Rabbit. Somewhat surprisingly, Lyla’s favourite was a latecomer to the story, Owl (maybe because of her mother’s owl fetish).
Attending theatre for young audiences is always an eye-opener for me, a reminder of how limited my adult perspective can be and how exhilarating it is to see the world afresh through young, unjaded eyes.
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