It’s often difficult for adults to review, or even appreciate, art designed for children. Constrained by the unfortunate cynicism, and know-it-all mindset, that often comes post maturity, adults can often lose the sense of wonder which makes art enthralling to the younger audience which it is designed for; we’ve seen it all before.
Aware of this, the best ‘children’s art’ can often be ones which give adults a route into the piece’s big ideas; instead of waiting for adult appreciation, they go looking for it.
An obvious example, Toy story, works because it nudges adults into waking up to the fact that they’ve become the jaded adult they vowed they would never turn into.
Clearly aware of the difficulties in creating a child-theme’d show which is relatable to all demographics, The lost happy endings makes brave/clever production choices from the start; finding opportunities to exaggerate and elongate the more adult themes of its source material. Maintaining a clear ambition to centre itself around contemporary ballet (a forest full of cleverly choreographed inspects and animals is particularly striking), the piece nevertheless breaks out of the potential ‘for children’ restrictions by using moments of shock and awe to keep its story alive (the first half climax, with tragic endings to well-known fairy tales, is particularly harrowing and brave).
Succeeding not only through its superb, accessible, style of dance, Lost Happy works as a result of its consistent desire to reinforce the story’s core adult themes of keeping dreams alive and protecting yourself from cynicism.
The fact that an audience full of children is kept quiet and full of awe is one victory; another is that it captured the heart of one of those hard to please, cynical, adults. What a lovely, brave, show this is. A must for all demographics.