Fraxi, Queen of the Forest
Myth and science are woven together in this lyrical children's show
Trees are the lungs of our world, the nine-year-old narrator of Fraxi, Queen of the Forest tells us. And thus begins this love letter to nature's guardians, a gentle, buoyant, lyrical mix of folklore and science, performed by three loving storytellers for whom it is clearly a joy to tell their tale.
Fraxi is an ash tree, crowned queen of all the trees and tasked with looking after the sensitive ecosystem of the forest. Through a combination of voiceover, audience banter with an adorably pompous caterpillar and visual storytelling, we learn both a fable about a boy named Woody whose best friend was Fraxi, and also various explanations on photosynthesis, metamorphosis and regeneration.
How much of the quick fire facts will be picked up by children's famously sponge-like brains isn't really important, as the tale works beautifully on both scientific and mythical levels.
What is particularly lovely about this piece is young Amelia Szypczynska's voiceover, and the idea of giving power to the child to tell the story. Less lovely are the jokes about the caterpillar's weight, which, even though gentle, play into a distinctly human body-shaming culture that surely doesn't need reinforcing to children.
ZOO, until 14 Aug, 1pm, £8 (£6).