It is rare to see such care taken with an early-years audience as Teater My demonstrates in Little Steps, a perfectly pitched theatre production for two- to five-year-olds. Structured around the sensory-play props of sand and water, it is both reassuringly familiar and wondrously surprising. It offers a series of short sketches that build upon the core of childhood activities (bedtime, playtime, treat time) and relationships (parents, grandparents, friends), privileging the importance of recognition and repetition over any obvious attempt to entertain.
At a full-to-capacity performance at the Ark, actor Mette Rosleff is rewarded with the full attention of the audience.
Giacomo Ravicchio’s exquisite set is central to the success of the endeavour. The isolated space of a canvas tent provides the young audience with a self-contained environment free from distraction. The neutral palette creates a blank visual canvas from which familiar objects, when they appear, gain an almost magical quality (ooh, look, an umbrella). Poule Arne Kring’s tiny props are a world in miniature that a young audience can both identify with (“I am a small person too”) and distance themselves from (“that girl is a puppet”).
Rosleff’s gentle performance and even, untheatrical address set the calm tone for the 30-minute show, and it is complemented by Martin Vognsen’s unobtrusive composition. The sedate atmosphere succeeds in taming the most potentially disruptive of all audiences, and their attention is duly rewarded as the sand-pit reveals a final visual surprise and the even simpler pleasure of a chocolate-spread sandwich.
Accompanying parents, meanwhile, will take their own treasures home: gratitude for the respect granted to the developing minds of their children and a reminder of the simplicity of their needs.