grandad and me polka theatre

Grandad, Me… And Teddy Too. Unicorn Theatre, London
It’s not becoming of a grown woman to be jealous of five year olds, but I really wish I’d bought my teddy (a monkey called Monkey) to Grandad, Me … And Teddy Too. The BYO Bear meant the audience was as populated with fluffy friends as children and their guardians, a nice touch that was only part of the effort made to create a magical but familiar environment. Polka’s Adventure Theatre had become Mia’s world – the audience sat on grass in her garden, and the stage was her playroom.
It’s in her playroom that Mia video calls her Grandad; he lives in Argentina but they speak every night. Now, Mia and her teddy, Teddy Too, are counting down the sleeps until Grandad comes to stay! But when he arrives it takes time to get used to.
Mia’s experience is beautifully observed, allowing for both the excitement and awkwardness of their meeting. She has a very specific way of doing things, and Grandad just can’t seem to get it right. For one thing, he’s too tall. He can’t do Teddy Too’s voice or walk.
When Mia presents Grandad with a cracked egg, he delights in telling her that maybe it’s a dragon’s egg, and the dragon was born, and the dragon flew away! Mia shows a flash of confusion and quickly rebuts him: “No, it’s a real egg, from a robin. I found it in my garden.”
The production follows them as they tentatively test the water, seeing what the other will enjoy, and gradually learning that whilst Mia likes cold and Grandad likes hot, they both have a real talent for making music with deflating balloons (a moment of genius).
Chris Randall’s lighting design, full of fairy lights, made the theatre feel cosy and the everyday objects in Mia’s home feel extraordinary. Elements of the set suddenly appeared though they have been there all along – a spider’s web in the garden that glints, a toy aeroplane that flies overhead and a globe that glows whenever Grandad is traveling.
The whole production added a touch of magic to ordinary events, whilst appreciating that to children, events like a visit from Grandad are full of magic.
The resolution is quietly charming, and the whole production is very gentle and understated. Grandad, Me … And Teddy Too feels like it could have played out in countless homes, and it’s not surprising that lots of research with children, parents and grandparents went into creating the story. Mia and Grandad feel very ordinary and real, and that’s a good thing.
Flossie Waite
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