November 18, 2023
It’s Christmas Eve. Santa is flying through the night sky on his gift-laden sleigh. All is well. But wait! Something odd happens. He disappears behind the moon in a cloud of dust and doesn’t reappear. This could be a disaster! But fear not because the Starchitects are on hand, ready to blast off into space to save him, and Christmas.
Motionhouse’s new festive adventure starts with a group of friends on a sleepover. Their excitement fills the space as the audience is greeted with a tidal wave of energy. There’s a fun hide and seek game, with audience participation encouraged. “In there!” shout the youngsters pointing at one of the many cardboard boxes that, as with the original Starchitects, play a major part in the show.
The show is all happening in mac’s (Midlands Arts Centre) first floor gallery, transformed in a live performance space after the temporary, precautionary closure of the centre’s main theatre due to the discovery of RAAC in sections of its roof. While it has a much lower seating capacity, everyone is seriously up close, which makes you feel more involved. Those in the front row are literally inches from the performers. The squeezed stage space also somehow amplifies the energy.
Starchitects Save Santa! doesn’t just fizz, it explodes into an hour of great fun. The show is colourful, hi-tempo and non-stop. It’s amazing what you can do with a few large boxes, some imagination and a dash of the ‘inner child.’ As the invention ramps up, those boxes become a sleigh, a rollercoaster and more. A twist on the ‘lady sawn in half’ magic trick is unexpected and quite brilliant. It’s easy to imagine the youngsters watching wanting to try everything and more for themselves when they get home.
It’s when they build a telescope that they spot Santa is in a bit of bother. After getting ‘space fit’ it’s time to build a rocket and blast off on a daring rescue mission.
Cue Motionhouse’s gravity-defying choreography backed by regular collaborator Logela’s amazing digital projections. It’s as impressive as we have come to expect from the company. One dance for two couples that’s full of strength and grace, performed on poles poking through the slatted backdrop, is a particular highlight.
There’s also time for an underground adventure with Logela’s visuals to the fore; an encounter with a strange sort of four-limbed octopus, which I suppose makes it a quadrupus; and even a dance using space hoppers. Oh, yes, and once home, a snowball fight, participation encouraged.
Starchitects Save Santa! is a Christmas dance show like no other. It’s incredibly inventive. It’s loud and noisy in the manner that appeals to children, but best of all, masses of fun with lots of fine acrobatic dance along the way. It’s a real family show that has something for everyone. I smiled and grinned from start to finish. Take yourself on an adventure. You won’t regret it. Children not compulsory!
Starchitects Save Santa! is at mac (Midlands Arts Centre), Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham to December 30, 2023.