Review: Three Sat under the Banyan Tree – Polka Theatre, Wimbledon.


Running Fri 28 Sep – Sun 21 Oct

I was a little apprehensive before the performance that the use of masks, a paired back set and only three performers might lead to my seven-nearly eight year old (and myself if I’m honest) struggling to suspend our disbelief.

I needn’t have worried, from the moment the lights went down, the Banyan tree lit up and the sounds of an exotic land enveloped us, we were spellbound.

The fourth wall was broken early on, inviting us to delve deeper onto the forest and become emotionally invested in the charming creature characters. As the three stories unfolded, told through the eyes of children, we were beautifully introduced to the ancient fables. They were bought to life through dance, music and exquisitely crafted, mesmerising masks.

There was not a trace of stereotypical Bollywood brashness. Instead, the barefooted dance beats were a great teaser trailer for traditional Indian dance, leaving you wanting more.

The simplicity of the ‘children’s’ storytelling combined with the modest set and props gave the children in the audience especially, space to consider and contemplate the morals and life lessons playing out.

The stories of the curious crow, maternal mongoose and loyal leopard remain relevant to a modern audience and I found myself reflecting on ‘what is family’, ‘kindness & cruelty’ and even ‘plastic pollution’.

As well as imparting the obvious sagacity, the talented trio also empowered the little people with a fantastic sense of positivity and confidence. Urging and encouraging self-belief, courage and tenacity, with unabashed declarations about the importance of ‘play’ and ‘adults can’t teach you everything’.

This was a heart-warming production which had all of the delightful innocence of a child. Peppered with wisdom and of course giggles and laugh out loud moments too. The characters were so authentic and endearing that at one point a very young audience member offered her interval bought ice cream, to quell the hunger of a character, which had us all cooing in unison.

Rose-Marie Christian in Three Sat Under the Banyan Tree. Credit Craig FullerI strongly recommend a trip to the Polka Theatre to see this multi-faceted production. There is so much to take from the 1hr 30min performance. When the lights came up, my daughter looked at me all wide eyed and said “we need to come here more often!”

**** Four stars of out Five


Review by Sarah Rance, #MGFBlogSquad

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Woman, individual, person, who also happens to be a mother and wife. I have three great kids, two boys and a girl. No I was not ‘trying for a girl’ third time around. Most of my time is spent cultivating these fine specimens into being good people that are definitely not Meany-pips! I enjoy the theatre and comedy. Most favourite thing is funny women, the ones that make you ugly laugh, give you face ache and make you breathless. I hated school but I love learning. I’m a feminist, raising feminists whilst being a positive ambassador for boys. Worked in childcare for nearly a decade and now in the charity sector. I care about people, especially little ones.

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