REVIEW: Ten in the Bed (Half Moon Theatre)

The latest production to emerge from Half Moon’s Half Moon’s “Narratives of Empathy and Resilience” programme is Ten in the Bed. Written by performance poet and award-winning teenage fiction writer, Steve Tasane, it’s an exploration of the child refugee experience aimed at ages 3-8. Having opened at Half Moon earlier this year, the show returns this month as part of a national tour. We headed to Half Moon on Wednesday to experience this delightful new production in the company of two enthusiastic nursery groups.

Naz (Hari Kang), Iggy (Hayden Mampasi) and their eight friends all cosy up at night in one big bed. Far from just somewhere to sleep, their bed is a safe place to play, where they can escape into a world of imagination. They can’t get too carried away though, for fear of sanctions imposed by the scary voices outside the door. And as they embark on their adventures, they start to question whether there’s really room for everyone. The bed is a bit of a squeeze – what will happen if the little one says “roll over”?

It’s a carefully crafted production that sensitively explores the refugee experience in an age appropriate way. Remaining playful throughout, it manages to work in a sense of fear without tipping over into being too scary for a young audience. For children who have experienced trauma, role play can be a very safe way of processing their experiences, so here we see Naz and Iggy regularly returning to imaginary worlds on a similar theme; from fishing boats to pirate ships, they seem to keep finding themselves at sea, but this time they’re in charge of how the story ends. There are also recurring themes of hunger and cold, offering plenty of scope for post-show conversations.

The playful nature of the production also means that there is something in there to engage both ends of the recommended 3-8 age range, even if the very youngest audience members may not pick up quite so much of the messaging. The nursery groups at the performance I attended were all giggling away throughout. For many, this may have been their first experience of live theatre, and it was clearly an extremely positive one. And even if they don’t take much of the more nuanced messaging away from the show, they may well find themselves singing a new version of the classic nursery rhyme. Because in Naz and Iggy’s world, nobody falls out of the bed – they all roll over and there’s room for everyone!

Image credit: Stephen Beeny

Overall, Ten in the Bed is an entertaining production that offers young audiences an insight into the refugee experience in a sensitive and thought-provoking way. Perfectly striking the balance between fun and frightening, it brilliantly demonstrates the healing power of play.

Ten in the Bed opened at Half Moon Theatre on Saturday 4 May 2024 and returned to the venue from Tuesday 4 to Tuesday 11 June 2024 as part of a national tour. We received a complimentary press ticket to the 10am performance on Wednesday 5 June.

Image credit: Stephen Beeny

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