three stars

The Whirlybird

three stars

Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

Spring has sprung and while Eco Drama, in association with Platform, is merrily away with the (whirly)birds, Indepen-dance 4 are flexing their jolly green fingers among the plant-life in Grow.

These are briskly short treats: around 35 minutes apiece, both ending with young audiences piling on-stage and getting hands-on with the props. This interaction, like the performance style and content of each show, works better with the nursery age tots at the lower end of the suggested age range of 3-7 years. I suspect any over-5s would find the happy-go-lucky naivete of these pieces a tad baby-ish, whereas the toddlers on both occasions were happily charmed by what they saw.

In Grow, this was a breezy, dance-y salute to the first green signs of spring where Jack Anderson, Neil Price, Adam Sloan and Emma Smith (of Indepen-dance 4) had fun with an episodic choreography that sees a seed become a flower. Hidden arms tendrilled out of earth-brown gro-bags, the dancers ‘sprouted’ and responded to the lively mood shifts in David Goodall’s music with expansive moves that – even if the narrative line was a bit fuzzy – had eye-catching appeal and spring-time energies galore.

In The Whirlybird, co-devisers Caroline Mathison and Beth Kovarik are a couple of fledgling songbirds – the latter is already trilling and spreading her wings, the former is not. Instead, she’s an earthbound birdy, raucously squawking and ungainly and her comically inept attempts at flight have the tinies in giggling raptures. However when Mathison starts investigating Claire Halleran’s colourful woodland set – where cut-out trees have shed real leaves and twigs! – she finds the sycamore’s ‘whirlybird’ seeds – whee! sending them airborne is enough to help her learn to fly as well. Like Grow, this is all about bringing everyday nature centre-stage – before climate change robs tots of the real thing.