Valentina's Galaxy (3 stars)

This article is from 2018.

Valentina's Galaxy

Frozen Charlotte champion the first woman in space and show the worlds she opened up for those who followed her

It's the space age all round for young children's theatre specialists Frozen Charlotte, as they turn the auditorium into a comfy front room, with the stage set out like a picture of a family kitchen from a 1960s style magazine.

This is the domain of performer Ellie Griffiths – only slightly scary with her big beehive hairdo – as she scurries between kitchen and living room, handing out popcorn to the 2—5-year-olds hunkered down on cushions with their parents.

Eventually it's time to turn on the ancient TV in the corner and watch footage of Valentina Tereshkova blast off into space – the first woman to do so – and for Griffiths to fiddle with household gadgets to cook up her own spacecraft. Soon dancer Joy Maria Onotu jumps out of a cupboard in a modern space outfit, and a model of the moon is brought out, before the story orbits on past the moon and the asteroids to the stars.

With tinkling retro space music from Niroshini Thambar - and succinct use of lighting by Gerron Stewart, which helps keep audience and performance apart - this is an intelligently constructed show. It should be the start of another great adventure from the makers of hit shows Too Many Penguins and Paperbelle for a similarly aged audience.

But to blast off into permanent orbit, this needs more tweaking. The audience area is designed for how the company would like children to behave, not how they actually will – and the lack of seats for grown-ups means they sit up-front on the carpet, ruining the sight-lines for any wee ones behind.

The 35-minute play feels as if guaranteed child-pleasers such as a parachute, and bouncing balloon, have been dropped in as fillers, while it is curiously fact-light for older children. The idea and the set concept are bright and engaging, their delivery needs work.

Seen at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Valentina's Galaxy

Frozen Charlotte present a story inspired by women in space, for ages 2–5

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Sat 25 May

£12 (£9; Children £9) / 0131 228 1404

Tue 28 May

£12 (£9; Children £9) / 0131 228 1404

Wed 29 May

£12 (£9; Children £9) / 0131 228 1404

…and 3 more dates until 1 Jun

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