The 'me, me' generation
As Pop Up Theatre's What About Me? began, a couple of three-year-olds shouted, "Pingu!" I, too, thought about the children's cartoon which features penguins who communicate by saying "ee ee, ooh ooh" a lot, but I held back from shouting it out.
Mike Dalton's production, set in an Arctic ice-scape, relies on "ee ees" and "waa waas" rather than words, and the three characters certainly look like penguins. But it doesn't matter, because this is a theatre piece that deals with an aspect of relationships that three to five-year-olds can understand: the pain of being left out.
Through gentle humour, he tells the story of a creature who comes across a little tent, from which emerge two other creatures. To begin with, they are suspicious of the newcomer but then slowly come to trust and share with it. When two puppet babies are hatched, they close ranks against the third but, in the end, are all reunited and everyone is happy.
Pop Up has once again created a considered, witty and cleverly designed piece that builds on empathy with all the characters, without resorting to mawkishness. Theatre for the thinking toddler.
What About Me? is at the Young Vic Studio until Feb 8. Tickets: 0171 275 8376