Mavis Sparkle ( Eve Robertson) and Spike

Mavis Sparkle

Birmingham Rep Door


IN an age of video games, social media, conversations in 140 chshadowaracter and acting and plot becoming secondary to computer graphics in movies, what a delight to find some good old fashioned storytelling.

Story telling is as old as mankind. In many societies, such as Native Americans or Australian aborigines, a peoples’ entire history, legends, culture and place on earth are all wrapped up in stories passed on from generation to generation since the dawn of language.

And carrying on that tradition is Eve Robertson as Mavis Sparkle a cleaner with a trolley full of mops, brooms, a wayward mop bucket and just a little dusting of magic.

The scene is set with the audience being duly dusted and Mavis nonchalantly performing a couple of magic tricks; a bit of paper miraculously reforming as a newspaper page, a discarded snack wrapper bending on command. Not quite Dynamo, but enough in the close confines of The Door to bring a look of wonder to the faces of the youngsters in the audience.

Mavis drops more magic into the show, sometimes enough to impress children but tongue in cheek for the adults, which is all part of the fun.

The problem is Mavis’s job is finishing so she needs to find a new one and along the way we meet Spike, a very realistic rescued hedgehog, and hear of her parents, a magician and a dancer who travelled the country in a campervan called Connie.

Mavis gives us a taste of their magic show. When variety died in theatres the pair got ordinary jobs as cleaners but they made one last magical journey in Connie to see the stars and the aurora borealis, the northern lights, all in a simple light show in a model theatre on Mavis’s trolley, from shadow puppets to heavenly bodies.

Simple, low tech, not a computer screen in sight, and remarkably effective.

It is a show full of gentle charm with lots of quirky moments and a trolley full of hidden compartments making it fun and interesting to watch, but adults are not really the best critics of children’s shows. How good a show really is can be measured quite simply by the level of fidgeting, talking and even crying – kids can make the Glasgow Empire seem sedate!

And Mavis had the kids eating out of her hand, wide eyed with little gasps of surprise at the simple tricks and full of wonder at a simple lightshow. My youngest grandson, at 16 months, is perhaps a little young for a coherent view, although it did hold his attention and he did try to join in a couple of times, but his brother, five, with 30 shows under his belt already (the benefit of a theatre reviewing granddad) is a seasoned theatregoer and declared it a hit. Praise indeed.

The age guide is four plus and for younger children, and to be honest, their parents as well, the show is a real delight which at 45 minutes or so is not too long to test young attention spans. It keeps alive an age old tradition helped by a little magic and stars. Written by director Gilly Baskeyfield and Dot Wood, M6 Theatre's  Mavis Sparkle runs to 29-10-16

Roger Clarke


Mavis Sparkle is at Warwick Arts Centre Coventry, Sunday 13 November 


Index page Rep Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre