|30 June 2011|
Duckie's Lullaby at The Barbican
Naima Khan: Spoonfed
Naima Khan sleeps over at The Barbican
If Duckie's Lullaby was all about putting people to sleep, they could have staged it in the middle of the day and expected the audience to nod off. But kicking off at 11.20pm makes me think this is more about creating an unforgettable shared experience and tapping into that childlike feeling of being put to bed. I'd say nostalgic, but not everyone was sung to, read to or given cocoa at night and that's part of the experience of Lullaby; that soothing and lulling, that care and attention that audiences (and adults) are so rarely given.
At The Barbican, we're very well taken care of: guided around the building, escorted to our beds, and tended to with ergonomic pillows (they're only slightly overrated) before we find ourselves tucked in under a soft duvet with fluffy pillows after a warm drink. Aside from sisters Harriet and H. Plewis clearly enjoying their work and Matthew Robins and Tim Spooner delighting in the live music and surreal visuals of it all, this really is a show for the audience.
This is the kind of event where a final applause for the performers would indicate a massive failure. You're not really supposed to be awake at the end, but I am, just. Sea Jellies are floating over my head and I think a fish has just doffed its hat to me. I'm ready to nod off as the room darkens after a light display and an illustrated explanation of orbital theory from a thousand years ago.
It's not enthralling exactly but it does abate the stresses of the day, and that's the beauty of a show like Lullaby: you don't need to see it all to feel like you've had the experience Duckie want you to have. You only need to hear the songs and listen to the stories and bask in a surreal shared experience that involves a theatre full of pyjama-clad people listening to beautiful music as several sparkly octopuses and some kind of heffalump float by. The waking up is just as important as the falling asleep – this is a completely immersive experience – and it's not quite birdsong that greets me at 7.30am the next day, but something just as sweet and much more surprising.
Lullaby runs at Barbican Pit Theatre until 23rd July.