Having never been to a Flossy and Boo production before I was very keen to meet feisty Litla the Brave; on a sunny spring afternoon at Chapter.
Anja Conti and Laura Jeffs are the dynamic duo behind Flossy and Boo productions and have been on a Chapter Arts Centre takeover during the Easter holidays.
As I walked into the Seligman Theatre amongst the groups of excitable children with parents, I did at first wonder if this show was for me. However, within the first 5 minutes those doubts quickly evaporated as I became totally immersed in the world of Litla who released my inner child; which I think as adults we forget too easily! We are informed that children’s brains absorb most things like sponges at a very young age, so grief being the main subject of Litla was going to be something that I believe would strike the hearts and get the brains buzzing of children and parents alike; I was not wrong.
Grief is a topic that parents often that not find difficult to talk to young children about, just like Litla’s story showed when her parents were depicted as whispering in hiding from her. Children as we know, catch on very quickly from that behaviour that something isn’t right or has changed. Anja and Laura portrayed this all too common moment with a sense of understanding seemingly derived from personal experience. I’m sure this moment took a lot of parents in the audience back to a time when they did just that in a way of protection to their children.
Litla’s journey was told with excellent puppetry, harmonious singing, musical instruments and fantastic characterisation that made Litla’s voyage to dealing with her grandpa’s death an accessible way to deal with a very difficult topic. I admittedly got lost in Litla’s journey to find ‘elephant’, Litla’s toy given to her by her grandpa and her journey to get to the other side of grief; hope for the future. ‘Elephant’ was symbolic to being a coping method, a reason for Litla to get through her grief; creating a feeling of closeness to her grandpa. Seeing Litla battle through the woods to retrieve ‘elephant’ was just like the battle we as children and adults face in the wake of grief and pain, it is a process we must all embark on and it was fantastic to see it portrayed with a fiery Litla determined to make it to the other side and reignite the light back into her world.
Children are sometimes discouraged to deal with the emotions of grief but I think that more encouragement needs to be given to help children understand that it is okay to feel the way they do; it is a sign of great love for the person that has passed. Anja and Laura’s imaginative and creative storytelling made you feel secure that the topic was being told in a relatable way to children unaware of how to deal with grief or who are unsure of how to feel or express themselves.
The simplicity of props, setting and the use of everyday objects in the storytelling made the emotional connection firmly established as I got lost in Litla’s mountain to climb and forests to embark on without being distracted by unnecessary props. The story was powerful and enthralling to just make me want Litla to be led back to finding the hope in her world from the despairs of her loss.
I can definitely see the development of Litla continuing and I think that this is a production that can be taken into schools to be used as an educational tool in dealing with a sensitive subject.
As I left the theatre still lost in Litla’s world I couldn’t help but wish there had been a show that I could have seen as a child that helped me understand the emotional feeling of what grief was all about. With a tear in my eye and hope in my heart, I left feeling encouraged that there are now shows not afraid to deal with this topic and that children going through the same difficulties will make it back to the light with similar help just like Litla had on her way.