Wallace and Gromit, Caractacus Pott, Professor Calculus, Willy Wonka, the Hudsucker Proxy, Q – the world of fiction is full of colourful inventors, and now you can add two more names to the alumni: Mr and Mrs Professor Habengut, the central characters in Habengut – a journey of invention, a new children’s play currently playing at Børnescenen v Folketeatret on Nørregade (see G9 in InOut for more details), which is wowing the city’s children with its visual panache, humour and progressive perspective.
Created by Luba Lynch and Lisbeth Burian, the part-live action (directed by Burian), part animation (Lynch) show is aimed at three to eight-year-olds, although its appeal is universal. With minimal dialogue, it tells the story of two inventors, one of whom (the man, obviously), – by mistake – sends himself back to the Stone Age. He will quickly discover, as will the children in the audience, that ideas really are everything.
“As the old Chinese proverb says, if I have one egg and you have one egg, and we swap eggs, we still have only one egg each,” explains Lynch. “But if I have one idea, and you have one idea and we swap, then we both have two ideas. This sums up the story of the play. Ideas are to be shared.”
With my two daughters present (go on then: Billie, four, and Karla, eight), practically spanning the target audience, I was perfectly equipped to judge the play, as an adult, and also from the perspective of a child. I enjoyed it because of the stunning and colourful stenography and animation and quirky caricatures. Billie, judging by her alarmingly loud laughs, particularly when all of the food was thrown on the stage, loved it, while Karla thought it was “funny and good” and learnt “how not to get angry with each other when you have ideas”. Still, she did find it “difficult to follow” at times – a future critic in the making there!
Still, they walked away thoroughly entertained, understanding that ideas, including ones for magical plays like this, are to be shared.