For this column, I was determined to find something especially for tiny tots as it was Petra’s turn for an outing with Granny and Aunty Julie.
Petra is two and, with the decidedly unpredictable weather at this time of year, we were looking for somewhere indoors. I always do my best to find outings that can stand alone without a total grasp of the Danish language. We wanted somewhere in Copenhagen that we hadn’t been before that would still be up and running until the end of April. Not easy!
But Citroner i Vand at Det Lille Theater, for children aged 2-4, ticked all our boxes! It also tickled little Petra – and the other children in the audience too.
First proper theatre outing
We were not sure what to expect – of Petra or the show. No it isn’t a show – because that sounds like predictable nursery rhymes, sing-along choruses and clapping in time to the music. No this isn’t a ‘show’, it’s a ‘discover’ – an experience.
It doesn’t have any language at all, except occasional exclamations from the toddlers in the audience. And it doesn’t have a beginning and middle or a curtain that comes down at the end – though it has a paddling pool that goes up in the middle.
It doesn’t have a plot, so I can’t give the game away. But it does have a clear, crisp universe of sky blue and sunshine yellow, patterns and sounds – playfully presented by three friendly grown-ups who have time-warped back to childhood.
With their hard drives wiped clean, if you like, they explored a universe of shiny lemons, splashy water and enchanting special effects at a gently humorous pace, slightly reminiscent of what most people ‘do’ like about the Teletubbies universe.
Oooohs and aaaahhs
Cleverly designed elements of the scenery slowly reveal an interesting mix of things little children have tried before, like paddling in sunlit water, and things they haven’t – in a deliciously attractive sensory landscape – or rather sandscape.
When you are only two, a lot of what happens comes as a surprise. You don’t know that red buttons in lifts and trains give adults cause for alarm. You don’t know when you start off running full-tilt down a hill that you’ll end up using your nose as a brake. And you don’t know that mustard tastes hot until your older siblings dip their sausages in it and point a smartphone at you.
Well now that last trick won’t work with lemons anyway, as the tiny tots in the audience will know that lemons make your face scrunch up like the top of a drawstring plimsoll bag.
Got the juices running?
So what’s stopping you from trotting to Det Lille Theater, parking your expectations outside along with the pushchair, taking a back seat, going with the flow and letting the children enjoy what they see, hear and watch as the performers touch, feel, smell and taste.
Take care not to give a running commentary, please, or you’ll drown out the magic of lemons in water and tiny tots clapping softly, swaying to the music and echoing ’uh-oh’ across the theatre when a lemon starts acting up onstage.
Dolly steps not leaps and bounds
Nothing is right or wrong. The actors – Sicilia Gadborg, Nanna Skaarup Voss and Jens Gotthelf – explained to me afterwards that they love to hear what the children are thinking out-loud, and that they wait to find out how the children react before responding themselves. The ‘safari suit’ costumes, with lemons and leaves sewn on individually, reflect the thought that has gone into the entire production.
Talking of costumes, it’s a good idea to wear stretchy trousers you know are comfortable teamed with a long top as you’re likely to be bending down or sitting on the floor while taking your toddler’s ski suit off.
I got the trouser bit right but not the comfortable bit or the long shirt. My trousers were smart enough standing up, but decidedly silly sitting down and I ended up suffering from something dangerously close to builder’s bum.
Pithing down? Take a cover for your pushchair as the courtyard is open to the elements.
See more photos of the theatre and how we make lemon cakes at helendyrbye.blogspot.com
Helen Dyrbye is a published author, translator and former scout leader from East Anglia in England who relocated to Denmark a long time ago and loves it here as much as ‘back home’.