Half Moon Theatre is a dedicated children’s theatre in Limehouse, East London. Children’s theatre has been one of my favourite activities with Pea but productions targeted at pre-schoolers are few and far between so I’m always on the alert for age-appropriate performances. Half Moon had been on my radar for quite some time, but as it was quite the trek to get there from our (former) corner of south London we didn’t make it until late January and it turned out to be one of our last London adventures before the Dublin move.
Our day didn’t start well. My sense of direction is horrific and I rely heavily on the assistance of Google maps to get anywhere. In my efforts to find a step-free route to the venue that didn’t involve a gazillion changes I had about a fifteen-minute walk in a part of London I don’t know well. And, for reasons I couldn’t fathom at the time, I’d been having issues with mobile data on my phone, so no Google maps to come to my aid. To cut a long story short, I got a bit lost, and very stressed. I hate being late for things and the theatre had sent an email the day before with instructions to arrive 10 minutes early. Oh, and the meticulously planned step-free route turned out to not be step free at all, due to my complete misinterpretation of the Mumderground app (it’s actually a really useful app for getting around London if you aren’t a tit like me and read it properly). Also, it was raining. A lot. And I was very, very tired. And insufficiently caffeinated.
It became apparent I was not only not going to be 10 minutes early, but really quite late if I made it all. In fact, I considered just accepting defeat and going in search of a pint of coffee. But since I knew I’d be unlikely to fit in another show at this theatre before the move, I decided to plough on and maybe just sneak in at the back and catch the last few minutes. It turned out I had taken only a minor wrong turn and once I’d figured that out the walk was straightforward. I arrived at the theatre red-faced, rain-sodden and perspiring, expecting to be turned away. Instead, I was greeted by a breezy front of house person who let me take my time de-pramming Pea and removing copious outer layers of clothing from us both. We were then ushered into the performance and even able to sit fairly close to the stage. When I went to mute my phone I discovered that, despite all the fannying about, we were only 5 minutes late.
We were there to see Tam Tam Theatre’s Leaf, a story inspired by the changing of the seasons. As is often the case with theatre aimed at very young audiences, it was very much a sensory experience with the narrative advanced mostly through movement and gestures rather than dialogue (in fact I think it was entirely wordless, but, look I’m writing this in April and we went in January so no certainties). Pea has a decent attention span for this sort of thing, and was quite into it, if anything a bit too into it as I spent most of the time gripping his legs to hold off an unsolicited stage invasion. At the end, the children were invited up onto the stage for free play amongst the leaves. Pea, of course, suddenly became shy and had to be coaxed onto the stage and was then the target of a hostile pacifier takeover attempt by another child.
I was really glad I didn’t give up on this as in the end as the performance was very sweet, gentle and calming and Pea did eventually enjoy lolloping about amongst the artificial leaves. After the show, we spent a bit of time exploring the art materials in the lobby. We would have stayed longer, but we were both starving, so packed up and went in search of grub. I would have loved to have come back here for another production as the whole place had such a relaxed vibe, but it was just not feasible to squeeze in before we left London.
When I got home, I discovered that there was nothing wrong with my phone at all – it had fallen victim to Pea’s tinkering, and he’d somehow managed to switch off mobile data. I think it was deliberate sabotage personally.
Half Moon Young People’s Theatre is at 43 Whitehorse Road, London E1. There’s step-free access, baby change facilities and a free play space in the lobby with art materials and a small selection of children’s books. There’s no cafe on site, but check out the theatre’s website for recommendations nearby. Upcoming shows for under 5’s include Kaleidoscope and The Owl and the Pussycat.