This week, York Theatre Royal began its run of Monday’s Child, a warm and sentimental piece of children’s theatre written by award-winning writer Brendan Murray, and produced by the theatre company tutti frutti. The play follows grandmother and young granddaughter as they dance, try on clothes and discover the world around them – all signified in the suitcases and boxes that are spread out on the stage against the warmth of a pastel coloured, nature-inspired backdrop.
Upon first entering the theatre the audience is greeted by the character of the little girl, charmingly played by Josie Creise, who playfully wanders about the seating interacting with the children and telling them about her hunt for ‘treasures’. Accompanied by sounds of birdsong and gentle piano music, a tender tone is set for the piece. The play’s whimsical and innocent charm is accentuated throughout in a variety of ways – from the childish glee evoked in dancing energetically to music, to the simplicity of wearing a lampshade upside down on one’s head and pretending it’s a crown.
Music and dance are key to the success of the play, keeping the story that unfolds as accessible to all as possible. But in the joy and sentimentality evoked as these playful scenes unfold, there underlies an innate nostalgia; almost turning the whole play into a retrospective of the fun we all used to have as children. This feeling is established by the quirky, yet graceful charm of Erika Poole as the grandmother, a character balancing her own youthful spirit with an enduring maturity, elevating the play to higher levels of profundity.
As the play develops we are shown glimpses of the grandmother’s sadder past, which is perhaps designed specifically to appeal to older members of the audience. The poignant real life accuracy in the interactions between these characters, such as when the little girl gets frustrated at the grandmother’s struggle to remember things, furthers the creation of this relatability and poses the play as wholly family-orientated.
Brimming with both a youthful buoyancy and implicit tender nostalgia, Monday’s Child proves to be a sentimental experience for all ages. One only has to look outside the theatre to the richly decorated suitcase labelled ‘Memories’, which contains small cards written by the most important members of the audience (mostly in crayon) to see just how well received this play has been.