Muttnik, the First Dog in Space (4 stars)

This article is from 2006.

Muttnik, the First Dog in Space

Niki McCretton’s version of the true story of Laika the first Russian space dog (dubbed Muttnik by the Americans) represents kids physical theatre at its most simple but effective. The tone alternates between melancholic and slapstick, lending the piece the air of a Charlie Chaplin silent film.

As with all the best children’s shows, there are plenty of opportunities for interaction with the audience, including playing catch with a giant inflatable globe, identifying the planets in the solar system and reading about the hound’s eventual fate from an opticians’ chart.

McCretton herself is an engaging, versatile performer, moving from exuberant Singing in the Rain-style dance to Cossack whirling. She effortlessly alternates roles, from the bedraggled pooch to stern Red Army officer and dotty Soviet scientist, in a show that is frequently moving as well as great fun.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 11.25am, £7.50-£8.50 (£6-£7).

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