Review: Scottish Opera’s KidO
Musical feet and fruity sounds for pre-school audiences
There are certain places we expect musical sounds to emanate from – and a pineapple isn’t one of them. Such strange and delightful occurrences are par for the course in Scottish Opera’s new show, KidO, however.
Advised to take off their shoes and socks upon entering the theatre, the young audience in the front row is then asked to place their feet on the ‘magic squares’ (while the adults sitting behind them secretly long to do likewise). Feet firmly planted, the little ones now create a range of exciting sounds, simply by giving friendly performer Stuart Semple a high five. It’s a beautiful demonstration of science meets art that has everyone beaming.
From there, the story begins – a simple narrative about sharing, which will resonate with any pre-schoolers who have had to jostle for space in the sand corner at nursery. Major, a man who has a place for everything and everything in its place, is appalled to discover he’s sharing his home with a nesting magpie. Where once sat a neat row of teacups, now sits a messy nest.
Magpie, meanwhile, is waiting for her eggs to hatch and expresses her indignation at Major’s fastidiousness by messing things up a little. Into this den of annoyance comes scooter-riding Semple, dressed in gold Lycra with a bell on each shoulder and one on top of his head. Lining up the aforementioned fruit on the floor, he enchants his companions – and us – with the sounds they make. But, tired of their arguing, he soon scoots off, leaving Major and Magpie bereft – and the empathy for their loss shown by the young audience is truly touching.
A happy ending is close at hand, however, followed by opportunities for little ones to venture on stage and try out the fruit themselves – which, like their feet, sits on magic squares and produces a musical scale.
There’s much to like about this latest offering for young audiences by Scottish Opera. But a splash of colour on the cleverly interactive, yet dreadfully drab, brown Formica set would have given the show a lift, and the need to keep things simple seems to have over-shadowed the search for ways to use these talented opera singers in more imaginative ways.