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University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD
0115 846 7777
Gallery free, performances vary
21-Jul-16 to 21-Jul-21
Mon-Fri, Sat, Sun, 11am - 5am Mon-Sat, 12-5pm Sun
Welcome to Lakeside - the University of Nottingham's unique public arts facility based in the family-friendly surroundings of Highfields Park.
Since adding the Civic Trust Award Winning D.H. Lawrence Pavilion to our existing portfolio of the Djanogly Art Gallery and Djanogly Recital Hall in autumn 2001, Lakeside has rapidly established itself as a hugely successful new multi-arts centre in the East Midlands attracting almost half a million visitors in our first 3 years.
We offer easy access to a year-round programme of high quality, diverse exhibitions, music, theatre, dance, comedy and literature performances, as well as the chance to participate in out-of-school workshop activities for children and young people. Our buzzing programme is complemented by two attractive cafés and beautiful parkland, making a visit to Lakeside an enjoyable event for the entire family.
Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.
Lakeside Arts invited us to see Bad Guys on Sunday 2nd October 2016. Our young reviewer took her parents along.
The Djanogly Theatre held an excitedly expectant audience of children and their grown-ups, facing a prison cell set. Someone must have done something bad. Our three Bad Guys appeared and quickly established their characters; bossy older brother Derek, easygoing middle one Ernie and last and um, least, criminal mastermind-wise, Dick.
A day before their release, our imprisoned anti-heroes were desperate to maintain their bad guy badness by breaking out to do something bad. Except Dick, who'd quite like to set up a bakery. What to become? Well, mad scientists, cowboys, then pirates of course!
The jokes, visual and verbal, fired rapidly, the pace barely letting up. The odd self-reflective musing and some audience participation were nicely woven in (audience participant Gary did brilliantly), all the while conveying anarchic ineptitude.
Slapstick predominated, with sharply choreographed slapping, tripping and shoving of the silliest sort. With no pretence of injury or time to reflect, there was no room for confusion about whether this was real. Our reviewer found it continuously hilarious.
With silliness to sustain the youngest audience members, daft plot-lines and one-liners for the older ones, there were gags for the grown ups too, sailing comfortably over smaller heads. The performers' joyous, even shameless self-deprecation particularly appealed. With none of the cruelty or protracted discomfort adult slapstick can rely upon, this was exuberant slapstick silliness and great fun for the whole family.
Extracting quotable one-liners from small children isn't always easy. So, shortly afterwards, “what did you think about that performance?”, “It was the funniest thing I've ever seen!” Bingo!
Lakeside Arts put on a ‘Funky Science' workshop between the two performances of Bad Guys, led by real (quite sensible seeming) scientists. We had great fun making a bubbling ‘lava lamp' and a paper rocket, which was fired satisfyingly high into the air. Not as ambitious as a world-enslaving ray gun perhaps but, one has to start somewhere.
FD, BD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Liz Clark and Turned on Its Head invited us to see Shiny at Lakeside Arts on the 17th January 2016. Our 3 ¾ year-old reviewer fitted the 6 months to 4 years age advisory comfortably.
Children were asked to remove shoes and socks on entering the theatre, signalling participation. We were seated on mats around the edge of the floor, children in front, grown-ups behind.
Two performers in matching mustard coat-dresses welcomed us, then started to twirl to perky 20s-style jazz tunes, in front of an intriguing heap of storage boxes. One picked up a tall stack and danced, leaning precariously over the audience, retaining magically graceful control. The other leaned over one pile then balanced boxes on her back, before enlisting a grown-up audience member to assist in her escape. Boxes with mirrored interiors were shown and shared around the audience. Children rolled and gazed into them, a baby was twirled in one.
A large box was opened and an enormous foil ‘hat' emerged, pulled apart to form two hats, danced with then shaken loose. The dancers encased themselves, forming dancing silvery columns, from which they emerged coatless, in purple satin. Another box revealed the largest space blanket we'd ever seen, which children were encouraged to scrunch and walk upon. A silver-shoed tap dance ensued, a disco-ball spun light across the room and floaty foil cylinders swooped around and over children. Finally, a shower of card-sized shimmering shinies was fanned around and children encouraged to catch and collect them.
The dancers dealt artfully with young participants from the beginning, dancing with and around them, handing escapees back to their parents and discouraging early exploration of the boxes. It wasn't completely clear at what point we should let our children loose; from the start, or watch until invited? Parents and children took varied approaches but by the time the shinies rained down, everyone was chasing, dancing and playing. The verdict? “I loved it!”.
Like a baby sensory class in theatrical form, Shiny is intriguing, involving and joyful. Graceful dance and stunning design meets small children, very successfully, through performers equally at ease with their audience as their medium. There's lots to try at home too, with sharing of your own shiny experiences strongly encouraged. A week later, "When can we see Sparkly again?".
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Lakeside Arts invited us to see Neverland on Saturday 5th December 2015 and we went as a family, with a nearly-four-year-old, keen to get into the pre-Christmas spirit.
An up-to-date, pared down take on a classic, blending present day familiarity with fictional fantasy creates a lively, tuneful and fast-paced three-person adaptation of Peter Pan.
Wendy is 13, cheery, optimistic, really almost grown up and visiting her Dad's new flat for the first time, in a run-down part of town. On her way there, a boy about her own age runs past her, with an angry man in pursuit. After discovering that people really do live in grotty bedsits – not just people, her Dad - and that everything he had planned for the evening; pizza, a late night and DVDs, is on her mother's banned list, a deflated Wendy picks up her old copy of Peter Pan.
Wendy's Dad answers an urgent call from work; a nearby children's home called Neverland, about a troublesome runaway resident, Peter. He has no choice but to go and sort things out. Wendy begins to read and adventure ensues, casting Wendy's old toys, her blanket, her dad, the boy and a Christmas gift bottle of perfume in leading roles.
Peter impresses Wendy with his carefree self-confidence and magic tricks. Captain Hook, a freedom-curtailing authority figure turned nemesis of childhood, is represented by her father (as ever in Peter Pan) and flits between the two roles, adding a dark realism to his piratical menace, (so long as we remember he's cast as Hook by Wendy's imagination, not his own, it can all end happily).
Tinkerbell meanwhile, loses her light after saving Peter from poison and we have to clap to restore her. This single element of audience participation, like many plot points, is dealt with swiftly. Much of the story is beautifully sung though, moderating its pace.
Wendy gains comfort in unfamiliar surroundings by re-connecting with her childhood through the objects her father has fondly retained, the gift he's bought her and especially, the book. Familiarity with Peter Pan helps to spot references but isn't essential.
For children, there's quite a lot to grasp to make sense of this story. The ability to recognise make-believe - that characters can play other characters - is essential. But, even the youngest viewers can appreciate a sense of adventure, good songs and a sparkly fairy. For older children, the context and details will add depth to the story.
The Neverland play area, created in the Wallner Gallery, by the entrance to the Djanogly Theatre, was a wonderful surprise. Neverland Island supports a huge tree, surrounded by sea, with a Wendy-house in one corner. Props and pieces of costume are scattered about (my trying on a pirate hat, after we'd seen the production, was not well received).
CG, ID, BD and FD for Mumsnet Nottingham
We were invited by Lakeside Arts to review Akram Khan Company and MOKO Dance's Chotto Desh on Saturday 14th November 2015.
An entertaining, energetic and entrancing production featuring episodes from family life and fiction. Chotto Desh uses dance, sound, clever visual effects and minimal props to portray character, place and narrative episodes with great charm.
Adapted from an adult production, for an audience of age seven and over, Chotto Desh ‘small homeland', features a child, growing up in Britain to Bangladeshi and Phillipino parents. His story is bookended by the child as an adult, talking to a Bangladeshi teenager at a mobile phone service centre. Her location and questions set him off on a trail of reminiscence – a familiar plot device but not overused, as one episode segues into the next. The connections between episodes were not always easy to follow but themes of family, father-son tensions, finding comfort in fiction and ones own way in a country very different from ones parents', were made beautifully accessible through inventive, skilled and often hilarious choreography and acting. A mischievous, fidgety child and rebellious teenage dancer were delightfully recognisable, both as universal archetypes and as a consistent character.
The complexity of the composite plot merited the age recommendation but, as a performance, this was engaging, entertaining and unpretentious. A great introduction to dance, almost without realising you're watching ‘dance', just really good story-telling and stagecraft.
CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Lakeside Arts invited us to review Our Teacher's a Troll on Thursday 29th October 2015. Our group included a nine-year-old, his very-nearly-seven-year-old brother and their Mum.
Trolls will do what trolls do – which includes chewing people's heads off. Children can't help being children – and that includes a bit of naughtiness. What will happen when a troll, who won't tolerate naughtiness, becomes head teacher?
Terrible twins Holly and Sean have seen their head teacher carted off after one too many ‘why?'. But in her place appears Mr Raa-aaa-aaa who is – he really is – a troll! Not only does he ban naughtiness, enforce sprouts with peanut butter for lunch and set children to work digging a gold mine, he bites the heads off particularly naughty pupils too. What is to be done? Holly and Sean appeal to adult authority, telling their mother, the school inspector, the police, even the prime minister but everyone is too busy talking about themselves to listen properly.
There's only one thing for it, they'll have to learn to speak troll and find out first hand what it's really all about. It's only when the children assert themselves with a daring campaign of ‘why?' (in troll of course) that Mr Raa-aaa-aaa grasps that they have wills of their own, which, if not on a par with the gloriousness of trolldom, could be given a little consideration.
Presented by two actors, with dramatic lighting and a microphone, I feared we might feel disappointed by the lack of an actual, costumed, troll. The storytelling swept us away though, with its humour, urgency and gentle audience involvement. The actors swapped characters as they shared the storytelling, adding to its intimacy and our sense of shared fantasy.
Ability to share in their imaginative journey justifies the 7+ age tag. Our reviewers loved it. “The bit I liked best was when they were saying ‘why, why?'”, “Where do you think they got that idea?” “I don't know, maybe they looked on a computer”, cue adult hilarity.
My Teacher's a Troll makes a cheerful case for finding a way to rub along together, by getting up close and getting to know one another (literally walking in each others' shoes, in the teachers' case), while sending up the idea of pious ‘tolerance', in fine style. But, why?
We were invited by Lakeside Arts to review Hubbub – A Musical Adventure, on Saturday 17th October 2015 and sent our young reviewer along with her father.
Hubbub is a noisy story told by four musicians and a, temporarily mute, narrator. Energetic and amusing musical theatrics engaged the imaginations of its young primary-aged audience.
A blue beetle emerged from a copy of The Tempest, flew around the room meeting the audience, then stole the narrator's voice and flew away. The story followed a stormy journey, trying to find the beetle and recover the voice. Balloons were used to help the musicians fly, then released into the audience. Our storytellers travelled over a bridge, fell into a river, swam, climbed and journeyed through a volcano. The beetle was found and returned to its book. Calm and the narrator's voice were restored.
The audience was engaged from the start with an introduction by the narrator. Hubbub's storytelling relied upon their imaginative powers, as the actors represented their journey physically and musically, with a minimal set. Lighting was used to good effect and smoke conveyed the volcano especially well. The balloons, a pillow fight, the performers' musical hair-ruffling and the beetle itself were particularly entertaining.
An imaginative romp, demonstrating the versatility of music and its power to narrate, engage and entertain.
Lakeside's café offers children's lunch options and copious drinks, snacks and cakes. There are accessible changing facilities, child-friendly loos and everything is at ground floor level. Outside there's a great children's play area and opportunity to feed the waterfowl at the lake front, or enjoy a picnic on the grass. Buses and trams stop directly outside.
FD and BD for Mumsnet Nottingham
We were invited by Lakeside Arts to review Second Hand Dance's ‘Grass' on Sunday 27th September 2015 and sent our three-year-old reviewer and her mother.
The show was intriguing, involving and fun. We wondered what would happen next and who was what. We questioned, engaged, recoiled and embraced this eclectic and winsome performance.
Grass and those who live in, beneath and upon it was the show's subject. The two energetic performers began in the kingdom mammalia, throwing instantly recognisable shapes as deer, a cow and hedgehogs. With aromas of freshly mowed lawn wafting over us, we were soon transported, through the prism of the set's neatly laid turf, to the milieu of the minibeasts. Beasts who were funny, earnest, friendly, determined and who just wanted to be recognised for who they were.
Grass combined grassy and invertebrate facts (ants have two stomachs and are descended from wasps?!) with gentle projections and vox pops, set piece performance, puppetry and shape-shifting guessing games. Earthworms worked out as boxers, the strivers of the soil. Bees discoed their waggle-dance communiqués and buzzed around the audience. A game of invertebrate charades made the most of the performers' precise physical impressions and involved everyone in calling out answers.
The audience was seated around three sides of the ‘lawn'; each child on their own little turf, adults on deck chairs and benches and, while this offered intimacy, I couldn't help feeling that, as sideways-on viewers, we missed some of the best visual effects enjoyed by those facing front-on.
Billed as for ages 4-7 that age group will gain most from Grass but younger children able to sit still and listen may enjoy this too.
Lakeside was a welcoming venue and ran a complementary minibeast colouring session. Their ‘meet the minibeast' session, planned to run between shows, was sadly postponed due to road closures for the Robin Hood Marathon.
Lakeside's café offers children's lunch options and copious cakes, drinks and snacks. There are accessible changing facilities, child-friendly loos and everything is at ground floor level. Outside there's a great children's play area and opportunity to feed the waterfowl at the lake front, or enjoy a picnic on the grass (while looking out for minibeasts of course). Buses and trams stop directly outside.
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
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