The Sunday Times : Review How to Catch a Star

Fiona Charleton

“A zen alternative to Christmas panto for tiny tots”

At the beginning of How to Catch a Star, a children’s play based on the picture book by Oliver Jeffers, stars suddenly light up the sky and delighted gasps of “ooh!” go through the auditorium. Keeping pre-schoolers engrossed for 45 minutes is not for the faint-hearted, and most kids’ shows beat their audiences into submission with flashing fluorescent windmills and happy-clappy karaoke.

But this silent puppet show devised by Branar and directed by Marc MacLochlainn is calm — like one of those cherished teachers who was able to keep control of a class without having to raise their voice. Raised in Belfast, author and artist Jeffers has a distinctive visual style. The puppet-boy in this show has lollipop legs, a chunky body and is not cute, just a single-minded little boy obsessed with astrology. Accompanied by gentle music composed by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, we see the world through his limitless eyes. His aim is simple. He wants to catch a star and is determined to succeed.

On the winsome, miniature set designed by Maeve Clancy, we meet a playful bird, a clever worm and a rogue star — all conjuring up innocent wonder. With puppetry by Grace Kiely and Neasa Ní Chuanaigh, this is a zen alternative to Christmas panto for tiny tots.

The Ark, Dublin, Wed-Fri 10.15am, 12.15pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm, €12.50; ark.ie