This review was originally written for The Public Review.
The organisation Borrowers International Network (BIN) has gathered a group of young adventurers to learn about the Borrowers, the little people that live around us. Its aim is to acknowledge the existence of the Borrowers and promote understanding of their culture. The Borrowers were first documented by Mary Norton in her 1952 publication of the same name and have inspired this organisation of scientists to educate the next generation.
The programme began with a short presentation about The Borrowers which outlined the role of the organisation. Each of the participants is given a uniform, complete with scientific glasses, descended from behind a curtain in a rather dramatic fashion. There is a room full of Borrowers artifacts including cultural handicrafts from all around the world and games and sports which the Borrowers play. With a game of I-spy the group explores the BAC with little notebooks with different items in them to tick off with the sighting of each. There are musical interludes played with improvised musical instruments made with everyday small objects. There are villains and suitably dramatic moments and a rather exciting and effective finish.
Created by Kazuko Hohki and aimed at 6-11 year-olds, the show takes place throughout the Battersea Arts Centre. It is a half term treat for children and parents who are looking for for some theatrical entertainment for the family. While a loose narrative drives the show forward, there is a variety of activities to keep the participants entertained. There are singalongs, little recap quizzes to join in and shout outs of the motto of the organisation for everyone. The exhibits are mostly hands-on which generate a hive of activities. The beautifully homemade props and musical instruments scattered around the building will hopefully inspire some to go home and create something, even if it is only the brilliantly simple yet effective coat hanger made for the Borrowers out of a paper clip. There is also a film showing the perils in the life of a Borrower from dropped items, traffic and animals. It is so effective that one young attendee had to leave halfway through as she found it too terrifying.
There may be a few moments of downtime trying to move a large group around the building, but the show tries hard with various installations and chatty chaperones to fill the gaps. It may not excel in total engagement and fun and some aspects of the show require a bit more polish, but it is an interesting and varied show which will have most entertained for 90 minutes.