Ninth Planet – Homeworld

8Y9A0897

Reviewer: LaNeshe

 

The Takeaways

  • The production paid expert attention to building an experience for a specialized audience (babies)
  • The soundscape of the show, both recorded and created live by the performers, was skilled and magical
  • The set offered exciting surprises, even to me as an adult

 

In my pockets

I love babies. I am a parent. I met one of the performers the day before I saw the show.

 

Design

The design of the show was impressive. The set designer (Tess Kunik) used heat-free lighting in the areas where the babies could potentially touch the lights. The lighting design really helped emphasize the shifts in the experience – being low and concentrated in stiller moments, and bright colorful strobing lights during highly energetic moments.

The soundscape (Steve Hayward) was also really helpful in creating the world of the production. The recorded music was great, but what really set the sound of the experience apart were the noises the performers themselves made: pops, grunts, and woo’s that really engaged the babies.

The construction of the set clearly demonstrated the thought the designers put into it. The “landing pad” offered a pre-show space to let the audience orient themselves with the world and each other. Inside the tent the set and props worked together to support the world of the play in a great way. While I’m much older than the intended audience, I still found the space magical, and in two instances in particular, when the kelp mobile was revealed and the seemingly nonfunctional ceiling structures turned into jellyish, I was very surprised.

 

The performances

The performers created engaging tableaus with their bodies throughout the piece. While there were no words, I still felt and understood that a story was being told through their interactions. They allowed themselves to be fully present and available to their audience, often being used as a prop for new walkers.  Despite the show being for babies, the performers didn’t interact with their audience in an infantile way, they performed for them.

 

Direction

Probably my only critique of the direction (Sam Tower) is that I didn’t feel like it came to a pointed enough conclusion. The ending was abrupt, but I also have to note that though the performance ended, the experience continued for the babies who went on to play and explore. My feeling of a sudden end could have been because I was one of the only adults who didn’t have a baby with me in the show.

 

Accountability

This is a great model for accessible performances. The makers showed great care in creating for their specific audience – an audience I’d argue is underserved. Performance for babies is not often presented. Ninth Planet created an experience where babies were encouraged to explore, make sounds, and be themselves.

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