Croydonites Festival of New Theatre 2017 review: Adventures in Noggle Noggle Land

By - Tuesday 4th April, 2017

One man’s search for his magic noggle button at TURF Gallery

Photo by Croydonites Festival of New Theatre, used with permission.

As my wife and I entered the informal lair of the TURF Gallery in Keeley Street, central Croydon, instead of the usual theatre chairs, we were presented with a variety of generous and differently coloured cushions placed on ornate, attractive rugs that could have doubled as magic carpets. In the centre at the back of the room, Anita Wadsworth, author and storyteller, was chatting casually to the audience, dressed in a onesie. Adventures in Noggle Noggle Land, brought to Croydon as part of the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre 2017, was clearly not going to be a formal theatrical performance.

As we took our cushions, we were both given small tubs containing items which we were told we’d have to use at some point in the story. We were also told that a certain audience member would at various points play the part of the dragon, while another lady was given the responsible job of making a variety of funny noises, each time the phrase ‘magic noggle button’ was mentioned. Someone else was also supposed to ping a triangle at certain points, while the entire audience was encouraged to join in with their own nonsense language at any time when the storyteller did so. This was obviously going to be an interactive communal experience.

In this age of technical wizardry, there is something relaxing and reassuring about listening to a storyteller telling a magical tale. Anita was a friendly and relaxed storyteller and soon the audience of about fifteen souls was engrossed in the tale of an adopted dragon trying, with the help of a boy, to find his ‘true family’. In this adventure, they were also helped by the magic noggle button, which could take both boy and dragon wherever they wanted to go.

Zany and surreal, with underlying moral messages

Anita is a talented writer who was also able to tell the tale in rhyme, which added an extra sense of fun and humour. Although her co-author, Naqiya Ebrahim, wasn’t able to perform in person (as she is currently helping refugee children in Lebanon), she was able to play various roles in both stories through the medium of an old fashioned TV. Her funny fake moustache and French accent in the role of a bizarre shopkeeper were particularly amusing.

Both tales were rather zany and surreal, yet underneath the craziness, there were reassuring moral and social messages. Throughout both tales, the audience was kept engaged by various forms of interaction, and in the second tale, we were even required to do a bit of drawing. Our small containers (in case you were wondering), held small paper representations of rain, and were thrown around the room when the tale required more precipitation.

At the end of the second tale, Lucy (Anita) finally got hold of her noggle pie, and this, together with either flavoured vodka or a soft drink, she generously shared around the audience. It was a bit like receiving treats at the end of a communal theatrical party, and the big kids inside the TURF Gallery went home, happy and refreshed by two tales from the weird and wonderful world of Noggle Noggle Land.

Charles Barber

Charles Barber

Adoptive Croydonian, currently trying to publish a book and find gainful employment within the Croydonian urban jungle. Environmental campaigner, Twitter@rainforestsaver, founder of the Croydon Rainforest Club and of the Friends of Whitehorse Park.

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