Finding Percy Erebus from Elephant Talk was first presented last year as part of Applecart Arts’ festival Dazed New World. Following a period of rehearsal and development thanks to funding from Arts Council England, it now returns new and improved at twice its original length.
Elephant Talk creates children’s theatre that explores sensitive topics: addressing the “elephant in the room”. This bittersweet adventure follows the journey of a child shortly after the death of her best friend, Percy. Lost and confused, she goes on a mission to find him. The quest leads her to strange and magical lands, where she meets weird and wonderful characters. They all say they will help but nobody really does, leaving the child feeling even more lost.
The longer running time of one hour allows Finding Percy Erebus to run at a slightly slower pace this time around, with more time to explore each part of the journey. It also allows the audience to enjoy all of the characters and everything that comes with them: a doctor with multiplying hands, a singing crab and a tea-loving fortune teller to name a few. Not every part or character may make perfect sense, but that really just emphasises the incomprehensible aspect of grief.
Once again, Helen Cox, Catherine Manwaring and Amelia Mehra give wonderfully expressive and engaging performances. With the original score, clowning, singing, dancing and puppetry they really do have a lot to contend with, yet they conquer every element with admirable versatility. The three, together with Susannah MacDonald, also wrote and directed the piece, which likely assisted in their conviction and embodiment in the delivery.
In summary, Finding Percy Erebus carefully incorporates many valuable messages, with arguably the most beautifully emphasised messages being: “no two journeys are the same” and “things that are heavy can’t always be seen”. There’s likely a lot for young viewers to take from this production, both in terms of entertainment and negotiating sensitive life topics.
Finding Percy Erebus is available to stream until 17th July