Review: Squirrel, by Egg Productions

Jessica Harris is enchanted by a half-term family performance at the MAC.

We sit within a woodland glade – babies, toddlers, parents and carers. We are as close as could be to the performance area, and to where the action will take place. The wood is created by the wooden bars and posts of a stage set, giant-sized play bricks form tree stumps and branches. and the atmosphere is created by ever-changing lighting and sound effects. There is a sense of tranquillity, at least until a storm arrives. But the storm is short, and quickly replaced by sunlight dappling through the branches.

In this wonderful setting a squirrel appears – a large and lifelike puppet, manipulated by the show’s sole performer to recreate the creature’s mannerisms. The squirrel runs around the trees and scampers along the boughs. Occasionally, it pauses, cocks its head and listens, its eyes bright as buttons. And then it starts to find acorns it has buried, first one or two, then more and more. Small round balls run along branches, down tree trunks and spill out onto the floor.

No further invitation is needed – children flow onto the stage and join in the game of hunting, rolling and collecting ‘acorns’. The squirrel continues to move among them – they can touch its fur and feel its bushy tail. The performer fetches a beautiful silver orb onto the stage and spins it on the floor, before placing it in a hoop. The children are captivated, and would clearly stay for more of these magical effects. But, as all good things do, the show must come to an end.

Squirrel is conceptual rather than narrative, but it kept its young audience engaged, apart from the very youngest, one or two of whom were perturbed by its sound effects. But it’s a piece that ended before it had really begun. The notion of a small creature, in its environment, friendly and familiar to most, is a nice idea to explore. But with a running time of just 35 minutes, the show had only just got off the ground, when it came to a halt without any indication of drawing to a close, and without any conclusion. As the performer left the stage, the children continued to play – it would have been a hard job for parents to tear them away whilst the fun had only just begun.

Squirrel is on at MAC until Sunday 18th February. For further information visit