A day in the life . . .

only a day cast

Boar, Fox  and Mayfly with Cricket behind

Only a day

Coventry Belgrade, B2

****

IMAGINE you only had a day to live; what would you do? This is the dilemma faced by Mayfly as she finally emerges from her nymph stage in the water as an insect.

Except she doesn’t know she is doomed, she just thinks the world is a wonderful place, “worth a million days” she says.

It is a world were Fox and Boar live. They are a bit like teenage lads, hanging around, doing stuff and things – stuff ad things which seem to consist mainly of hanging around, arguing, talking and generally being mates.

You get the idea they have been mates for years and will be for years to come . . . and just for this one day they are friends with this one Mayfly.

Boar, called a fat pig by Fox, much to the delight of the predominantly child audience, who also squealed with glee at a later mention of fart, is played in a rather playful lumbering way by Andrew Ashford.

Truffle eating Boar is a strange mix. He is a large, ungainly creature, who seems to be eating or thinking of food a lot. He is big and boisterous yet bursts into tears when the pair befriend mayflies, something they seem have done before, with it all ending in tears when the mayflies die the same day.

Fox, more of a Jack the lad, is played by Jacob James Beswick, who gives us a fox which lives by its wits rather than intellectual prowess.

And then we have Mayfly, played by Dominique Jackson, pretty and flitting about the world, lighting up when she is happy.

And in the background is Cricket, seeing all and playing happily, or solemnly, upon the violin, with Lowri Amies playing quite beautifully.

HAPPY DAY

Boar and Fox cannot bring themselves to tell the newly emerged little Mayfly that she only has a day to live, so they tell her a lie. They tell her that it is foxes who only live a day so they have to give him as much fun as they can on his last day on earth, which, also means giving Mayfly a happy day.

So we have a spot of chicken rustling, Fox getting married and Mayfly playing at being a baby until, inadvertently, in an argument, Fox, not one of nature’s gifted remember, lets out that it Mayflies are also called DAYflies because that is all they live.

It is then we meet a second Mayfly, don’t tell anyone it is really the Cricket with a hat on, who knows her 24 hour fate and stands, watch in hand, counting off her hours minutes and seconds waiting for her death.

The play presents a whole bucketful of moral and philosophical dilemmas for the children in the audience. Do Fox and Boar tell a little white lie or a big fib when they tell Mayfly it is Fox who has a day to live? Should they have told her the truth in the first place – Stand over there all you lot who will be here tomorrow! And where do you think you are going Mayfly?.

And then there is the question of whether it is better to live every day as if it will be your last, filling it with fun, excitement, interest . . . doing things, enjoying the world and making every day, last or not, special, or mope around like Mayfly 2 counting off the seconds to oblivion.

That is the educational aspect, but as we all know, education and theatre are not always the best of bedfellows – there must be whole generations of schoolchildren put off the wonders and contemporary themes of Shakespeare by education’s hand in its telling.

Children’s drama is probably just as important if not more so to theatre than Shakespeare, or Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams, Bennett, Stoppard and the like. It is the seedbed for the next generation of theatregoers. If children don’t find their theatre magical many of will grow up never knowing the wonder of the great drama’s of our civilisation

Only a Day is the English version of a play by German children’s writer Martin Baltscheit and stands as a piece of theatre in its own right without the educational add-ons to discuss later.

Director Tony Graham has kept it simple, fast moving, and funny while Jason Southgate has produced a lovely simple set filling the B2 space with a manual revolve to change the aspect if not the scene, with a sparking backdrop of stars, a huge moon rising.

My three-year-old grandson, who is a seasoned theatregoer these days, didn’t perhaps grasp the moral dilemmas posed – but he enjoyed the story so as a piece of theatre it served its purpose and at his age that is all that matters. To 21-02-15

Roger Clarke

12-02-15

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