Drak Theatre, Flying Babies

Review in Issue 16-1 | Spring 2004

Strung across the stage are lines of large squares of white cloth held up by giant pegs. An oversized old-fashioned white pram sits in the middle of the stage, which turns out to be occupied by three big bouncing babies in white romper suits and bonnets. The only touch of colour is a red balloon attached to the pram, which soon escapes to fly up and away. It’s a simple but highly effective scenography that sets the scene for the ensuing flight of fancy, as our baby heroes try to recapture their balloon – transforming their pram into a number of different flying machines including a Wright-brothers propeller-whirring aeroplane and ultimately a lunar spaceship.

Drak Theatre (from the Czech Republic) have a worldwide reputation for their skills in puppetry and animated theatre, so I was not surprised to find that this show was chock-full of wonderful visual moments, using every trick in the book from an extraordinary transforming set to shadow puppetry to object animation to projection. What did surprise me was the superb physical theatre and clowning skills from the three performers. There is no reason why a company shouldn’t be equally adept in the physical and visual aspects of performance, but few are. The narrative was simplicity itself: balloon lost, babies cross-balloon retrieved, babies content. But Drak had everyone entranced as the babies bounced off each other, images zipped along the walls of the theatre, loud noises pinged and popped and a giant ball thrown out to the audience was eagerly chased and thrown back with squeals of delight – and that was just the grown-ups.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Dec 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-1
p. 29