Gary Donaldson looks with optimism to end the second lockdown!

As we head out of lockdown for a second time (assuming the restrictions were relaxed on December 2), I am very happy to have some news about theatre re-emerging thanks to the Barbican Centre.

As always, Christmas brings a special show made just for under-fives and their families, the only difference this year being that the show is available to watch online instead of in-person. Those of you who have been working from home or watching material online will already be familiar with video platform Zoom, which is the platform hosting this show. For those of you who haven’t experienced it, the platform is simplicity itself, so please don’t worry about not being technical- it’s a breeze!

From 10 to 20 December, Akin company will present this year’s youngsters’ treat, entitled “We Cover the Universe”.

Akin’s We Cover the Universe © Illustration by Rachel Lincoln

It’s an interactive, sensory and wondrous online show for under-fives, their parents/carers and families, where poetry, drawing and gentle play combine to broaden your horizons.

We first meet Dot when she’s feeling small. She’s stuck in a grey room until, one day, she starts to draw and dream. Plucking up the courage to venture out, she encounters a glorious new world of colour. And where she learns there’s more to life than she ever imagined possible.

Two friendly performers will guide you through simple movement and inventive art-making activities on Zoom, showing you how to explore basic household objects for touch and sound. With magical music, vibrant visuals and lovely language that appeals to children and adults alike, “We Cover the Universe” takes families on a journey together, wherever they are, transforming items and spaces before their eyes. A good reminder that there is still much to enjoy until theatres fully reopen and we can see shows together again.

If it’s theatre in a real theatre you’re after, get ready for a show described as “Miraculous” by the Sunday Times and “Extraordinary” by the Observer. From December 10 to January 16, the Barbican has partnered with the Bridge Theatre to present innovative company Vox Motus’s intriguing show, “Flight” at the Bridge Theatre. From your individual private booth you’ll be drawn in close to this tale of orphaned brothers and their desperate odyssey across Europe, the action unfolding in an exquisite world of miniatures moving before your eyes.

Vox Motus’s Flight © Drew Farrell

With their small inheritance stitched into their clothes, young Aryan and Kabir embark on an epic journey by foot from Kabul to London. Braving bustling train stations, hazardous sea crossings and menacing strangers, their heart-wrenching story speaks of terror, hope and survival. Based on Caroline Brothers’ highly-praised novel “Hinterland”, “Flight” mixes timely themes with engrossing images to honour the resilience of refugee children adrift in dangerous lands.

With the show taking place at the Bridge Theatre, you’ll be seated individually and given headphones for this intimate experience staged by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison (magic and illusions designer for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”). As detailed model sets and figures revolve to form vivid and gripping scenes, accompanied by all-enveloping sound and narration, the effect is of a 3-D graphic novel brought to life. One not to miss, and a wonderful reminder of the power of theatre.

Although at present there are no further shows confirmed for the Barbican’s 2021 schedule, I hope to have much more positive news for you in the next Barbican Life. Until then, please keep well, stay safe – and have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!