Jellyfish (3 stars)

This article is from 2016


Tale of lighthouses, glowing jellyfish, underwater adventure . . . and parents struggling with depression

Tom's dad is a children's author, but he's not been managing to write stories as quickly as he normally does. His concentration has gone, he's irritable, distant and won't leave his room some days. Intrepid Ensemble aim to deliver 'seriously playful' theatre for small children, young people and adults and Jellyfish is their take on depression, and its impact on a family.

They've created a calm, non-hyper piece of storytelling, using Finn Anderson's score of twinkly piano and dreamy glockenspiel, an unstoppably versatile bit of white plastic (which morphs from candy floss to shaving foam and sea surf), and a pale blue, glowing jellyfish puppet. Alexander Luttley's warm, Welsh lighthouse keeper provides a wise, gentle friend for Tom (Nathan Allenby) as his parents struggle to keep up the pretence that everything's fine, and tales of pirates, seal coves and underwater worlds help him use his imagination to deal with what's happening.

Although it could perhaps be chopped by 15 minutes (some babies stayed transfixed by the lights and music, while other children got restless during narrated parts), their treatment of a heavy issue is original. Besides occasional behind-the-scenes flashes (the puppeteer's red scarf and animated face diluted the jellyfish's magic a bit), this is a sweet, thoughtful production.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 15), 11.45pm, £7–£9 (£6–£8.50).


  • 3 stars

Intrepid Ensemble A beautiful and entrancing portrait of the bond between a father, a son and a jellyfish. Young Tom lives by a lighthouse with his mother and father. After a difficult year, it soon becomes clear that they're sharing their home with a stranger: a gigantic glowing jellyfish. Can the family learn to live…