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Luna Loves Library Day an entertaining musical written by playwright-musician David Gibb and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho

Luna Loves Library Day at the Woodshed Theatre, Oxford, from Friday, February 2 to Thursday, February 8.

Review by JON LEWIS

Luna Loves Library Day Little Seeds Music Pic: Darren Robinson
Luna Loves Library Day Little Seeds Music Pic: Darren Robinson

Luna Loves Library Day is an entertaining and educative musical three-hander written by playwright-musician David Gibb and the current Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho adapted from Coelho and illustrator Fiona Lumbers’ book of the same name. The production takes place in 100 seat Woodshed Theatre, built in 2020, accessed by walking up a metal spiral staircase at Oxford’s refurbished Story Museum. Its walls feature an attractive patchwork of wooden doors and a ladder. The theatre mainly programmes and commissions children’s theatre and storytelling.

There are familiar Oxford connections via dramaturg Renata Allen who has written several of the Story Museum’s Christmas shows and designer Nomi Everall who has worked to great effect with multiple Oxfordshire Theatre Maker companies over the years.

Luna (debutant Yasmina Berraoui) is eight, with long frizzy hair, wearing bright dungarees. She loves discovering the world through books. Her mother (Nicki Davy, doubling as the librarian) is separated from her dad (Damien James) who takes Luna to the library every Saturday. These visits are Luna’s highlight of the week as both father and daughter share their delight in storytelling and escaping into fantasy characters. Gibb’s songs cover an array of genres with the opening number, Magic Myths and Scary Nights, illustrative of the delight discovered in stories.

Story Museum photo (c) John Cairns
Story Museum photo (c) John Cairns

The music is live, James on guitar, Davy playing a piano cleverly disguised as a librarian’s desk. The showstopper is the ‘Big Book’ song, choppy with speedy lines. During the song, Luna pulls out one big book with a dinosaur stretching outwards to demonstrate the magic appeal of the texts.

Luna wants her parents to get back together. Dad tries to explain to Luna why this isn’t possible by telling her the story of the Troll King and the Mermaid Queen. During the tale, the shelves cleverly turn into screens for shadow puppetry. The story is poignant and at the heart of the production. There may be other children in the audience in the same position as Luna for whom the scene might be revelatory. Above all, this is an interactive show where children join and shape the narrative.

Huge fun.

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