Review: I Am 8, Memo Arts Centre, Barry

Rebecca Royall visits Barry’s Memo Arts Centre to review Sweetshop Revolution’s touring family dance show, I Am 8.

Produced by Sweetshop Revolution in association with Memo Arts Centre, Torch Theatre and Aberystwyth Arts Centre, I am 8 is a dance show which attempts to answer a simple question: what does it feel like to be eight years old?

Based on interviews with children throughout Wales (with excerpts used during performance), director Sally Marie’s show is a great example of everything good about interpretive performance from the lighting by Grant Barden and costume by Minnie Sandbach, especially effective is In A Darker Moment describing how children felt during covid, the music by composer Frank Moon which hovers in your mind for hours after.

The electric, energetic performances from a talented cast of dancers including the amazingly acrobatic Alex Love, sassy Josie Sinnaduri, whose flamencos light up the stage as does Divija Melalli’s sunflower dance, Rosie Noble-Booth, stepping into the role two days before performance and not missing a step, and Joe Powell-Main a differently abled dancer whose talent and ability is truly inspiring.

The scope of I Am 8 is breath-taking – children are depicted as capable of having great fun and acceptance, yet we still see the child who is lonely. It is the honesty of the subject matter that really sets this production apart.

For me, the highlight of the performance is at the shows climax, when children from the audience are invited on stage to ‘play’ with the dancers, a remarkable thing to witness. Suddenly, I was eight again, embracing the joy of life and possibilities to come!   

  • I Am 8 is at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven on 7th June and at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 24th June. The company hopes that following this short tour, I Am 8 will return to more venues across Wales in 2024.

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