Review: Sparkle at Summerhall

“Love your sparkles!” is the rallying cry that Annie Cusick Wood weaves into this heart-warming work for young children (ages 3+) that reaches out, tellingly, to their adults as well. Wood’s championing of everyone’s right to be themselves is rooted in her son’s bleak experiences when he wore his princess finery to school.

David (Nathaniel Niemi) is also about to encounter that blinkered hostility when – as Sparkles – he gets ready for his first day at school. Handing him the drably regulation uniform is Kokua, a well-intentioned elfin creature (Christina Uyeno) who protectively divests David of his customary gauzy-glittery garb – it’s futile, because he is, himself, sparkles incarnate. 

The shadow puppets we see projected onto designer Karen Tennent’s white tent reveal the exclusion and the bullying that ensue. Even David’s pet caterpillar seems to have abandoned him. Luckily Kokua recognises that the ‘butterfly’ inside also David needs to spread colourful wings too – time for Sparkles to wow his classmates with his diva-tastic show, and for the wider world to recognise and accept the rainbow community that this wise little show celebrates.

Sparkle, Summerhall, 31 Jul – 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 10.20am

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