Marmalade – Created by Claire Parsons – New Victory Theater through Nov.19, 2017 – Photo by Mats Aasman courtesy of Claire Parson, Co.
It is rare that I trek all the way to midtown, let alone with the kids, but something in the description of the Swedish production of Marmalade intrigued me. A circus-like, sensory show (they call it a soft circus) for kids 1.5 to 4 years old sounds wild. Its 30-minute run time seems short when compared with the trip there, but the truth is that is the upper limit of my two-year-old’s attention span. That is clearly an intentional time limit.
Created by the Claire Parsons Co, the show earned a Swedish Theater Critics’ Dance Prize and has been performed more than 300 times throughout Sweden and Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. It was last seen (before this run at the New Victory Theater) in New York at SummerStage NYC at the Embassy of Sweden’s festival “Sweden in the Park” and at Scandinavia House.
You wouldn’t know that juggler Viktor Gyllenberg and dancer Mira Björkman have performed it so many times (although it is clearly polished to perfection) as they both seem to approach the dance and the audience with a kind of reserved freshness, a bit like the first day of school.
So how do you entertain little ones with very few words and more subtlety than some kids may be used to? In the age of cell phones and flashing screens, one approach that these performers use is tactile. The kids in the audience get to experience the materials that they see in the show, and they love it. The two performers also do a fabulous job of looking directly at the kids and connecting with them, which adds a very personal and direct touch.
I found this preview of the show that really captures the spirit of the production.
The waiting area was filled with fun textures and objects, but also tiny library of kids books, which is my daughter’s favorite thing anywhere we go.
Be prepared to take your shoes off.
One more tip: The theater is not the main New Victory Theater, but it is just down the block at 229 W. 42nd, but there are lots of helpful people to direct you.
The show runs through November 19th, so, if you want to attend, you should get your tickets now.