Kneehigh uses live music, puppetry, dance, and visual high jinks in this adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's book about soldiers prepping for the battle of Normandy. More…
Directed by Emma Rice (artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe), '946' is the true story of the American soldiers sent to rehearse the Normandy invasion from Britain's shores, many of them black. Seen through the eyes of a little girl and her beloved cat, '946' overturns everything we thought we knew about the D-Day landings. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo ('War Horse'). Appropriate for ages 10 and up, though be warned it is a war story.
“Loads of puppets and Rice’s customary practice of putting instruments in the hands of her excellent actors lend a pleasing whimsy to ‘946’…Rice does not shy from the grimness of the military disaster...It is horribly moving. Yet in the show’s most demonstrative emotional moment, Rice and Morpurgo are heavy-handed just when they should be restrained…Those are the only times, though, that this fine production loses its poise. The rest of it is all about balance: of mirth and sorrow." Full Review
"This charming and surprisingly touching creation by author Michael Morpurgo, director Emma Rice and the ever-inventive British Kneehigh Theatre Company. A talented multitasking ensemble and a merry band of musicians recall a dark slice of World War II...Don’t let puppets and toy soldiers and battleships fool you, there’s more here than just child’s play." Full Review
"So bubbly, energetic, and wacky that a few times during the performance, I was surprised by how suddenly I found myself choking up...Never heavy-handed or overwrought, '946' manages to tell a gentle, genuinely moving tale without cutting back on the clowning, drag, broad humor, music, and energetic dance...A highly spirited and inventive production, '946' lifted me out of troubled times present without ever spilling into saccharine nostalgia for troubled times past." Full Review
"It’s an enchanting show about a tragic event – if such a paradox is possible...An entertaining and deeply moving theatrical experience. Her stagecraft is nothing short of magical...Rice directs a marvelous, multi-talented 12-member ensemble who dance, sing, play multiple roles, and manipulate scores of puppets...Ultimately, credit goes to the vision of the amazing Emma Rice." Full Review
"A rich theatrical family-friendly evening of story, music, dance and puppets...This Kneehigh show continually captures our hearts...The cast is led by Katy Owen as Lily, played to perfection...'946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips' demands an attention and a collective imagination from the viewer, making it a special theatrical treat. St Ann’s Warehouse is to be commended for giving Kneehigh a New York home!" Full Review
"Kneehigh is known for its bold theatrical choices, and '946' doesn't shy away from them—even if it doesn't add up to the same impact of some of its previous productions...Has a tendency to feel reminiscent of Morpurgo's biggest hit to date, 'War Horse'...'946' feels slightly less original than it should...But we have to hand it to director Rice and her team, who've managed to create a version of Brechtian alienation that children will understand, even if it doesn't pan out all the way.” Full Review
"The play becomes genuinely moving near the end…But for a long stretch of its running time, ‘946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips’ skates very lightly over its most emotionally potent material, entertaining the audience in a way that doesn't always feel fully honest…'Tips' certainly knows how to make its audience happy...Still, there's a darker, more moving story inside, still waiting to get out. You can bring the entire family to this production -- and, oddly, that may be its weakest point." Full Review
“What ‘946: The Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips’ lacks — almost aggressively — is any sense of time and place…Artistic director Emma Rice has tossed in everything here, including a panto-style of performance entirely at odds with the bittersweet material…A show where most every choice is misguided…They drain away all the drama, nuance and texture of the book…I’d say Kneehigh has lost its way, but in fact it seems more like Kneehigh has been lost for a long time.” Full Review
“I certainly bridled—and the trouble began early…We're in a sugar-coated World War Twee where everyone was wonderful to everybody…There's a long, proud history of telling the story of wartime through children's (comparatively) innocent eyes…But ‘Adolphus Tips’ never questions the rose-colored glasses; rather, Rice and Morpugo are jamming them onto our faces…I fell off the ride early, and for two hours, I suffered.” Full Review
for a previous production "In this delightful family show, Rice provides a gripping, moving portrait of a community under siege…The Globe becomes an ideal arena for connecting its audience directly to the story, played out with an aching, fresh tenderness and surprise by its cast. The delightful Katy Owen plays lead role Lily, while Kneehigh artistic director Mike Shepherd doubles beautifully as her grandfather in the past and grandmother in the present." Full Review
for a previous production "There’s a wonderful host of classic Kneehigh-style characters, with an ensemble packed to the rafters with cross-dressing, energy and sheer commitment. I must commend the whole company for this – each performance is a gem in its own right...It’s full of comedy, occasional darkness and heartfelt poignancy. It’s a well-balanced, joyous night out that leaves you with a smile on your face, and reminds you of the power, authenticity and delight that underpins Kneehigh’s theatre." Full Review
for a previous production "Theatre's love affair with Morpurgo continues with this stage version of his novella...It makes for a winningly rumbustious family show, spilling over with song and dance and inventive cheek, that movingly affirms life in the face of the tragedy at its heart...I'm not sure that they've yet achieved the ideal balance between inspiring sentiment and inspired silliness and the proceedings feel a bit padded-out, but the sheer verve of the ensemble should delight punters of all ages." Full Review
for a previous production "'Adolphus Tips' brims with the imagination and invention that we’ve come to expect from Kneehigh, blending a carefree, homespun sort of charm with top-notch ensemble playing...It’s played a little too much for laughs and the storytelling tends to the meandering, but what wins us round each time is the fact that the piece is brimful of heart. There’s sadness but also lots of hope. It’s Morpurgo’s specialty spell, and in Kneehigh, Rice and the Globe he has found fine accomplice magicians." Full Review
for a previous production "This family show mixes carnival and tragedy in a series of mash-ups, both merry and sad...The register shifts from poignant reunions to cartoon episodes...'War Horse' has given the combination of puppetry and Michael Morpurgo a powerful theatrical pedigree. '946' does not have the same steamroller power. Yet alongside its musical bounce it lands a strong argument...The stage is full of characters who should make audiences think again about the word 'migrant.'" Full Review
for a previous production “Like all Rice’s work, this production is full of boisterous collective energy — and the occasional moments of clodding earnestness…Yet there’s so much heart here that it feels mean-spirited to quibble. It’s hard to take our eyes off thirtysomething Katy Owen’s lithe, livewire performance as a skittish young Lily. There’s loss and darkness, but perfectly pitched for a family show. My merry band of junior critics were enthralled while I found myself blinking back tears.” Full Review
for a previous production "Largely a feel-good, all-ages tale told with Kneehigh's customary agility and flair...Owen is astonishingly good...The action is presented with wit and verve...Although '946' has a fabulously footloose, skipping energy, it's a shame its story structure follows suit. Most of the narrative simply hops from minor event to minor event, and too much of it feels bitty and insubstantial...It takes a good while for the story to hit its beats. When it does, there's much to enjoy." Full Review
for a previous production "This is part-history lesson, part-variety show: highlights include a song played on beer bottles, entrances on a fireman’s pole, and Winston Churchill performing a skipping display...And that makes for a weirdly meandering, disjointed pace, which flounders through all the shades of moral grey this story throws up. But somehow, there’s enough silliness, jazz and heartwarming sap to jolly us through to a joyful ending that’s more than just tickety boo." Full Review
for a previous production "It features all the now-familiar Kneehigh trademarks: music, meta-theatrical cleverness, actor Mike Shepherd in implausible drag, and a fundamental undertow of sadness beneath the onstage capers. Katy Owen is puckishly endearing as young Lily, but Ncuti Gatwa and Nandi Bhebhe as the GIs are sold short by a script that seldom engages with the obviously significant racial dimension...It’s simply a romp with occasional, dutiful sombre faces, and which is soon over, to no clear point." Full Review
for a previous production "Championing innovation like this has its price. '946' is tonally inconsistent, particularly in the first half, and for a show about World War II, strikingly emotionally dry. This is partly the fault of an uneven cast, but it’s also the direct consequence of Kneehigh’s unwaveringly swashbuckling approach...Although it’s refreshing to see so many under-12s flocking the yard, one imagines their appreciation of Morpurgo’s finer emotional lessons might be lost amongst all Rice’s noise." Full Review
See it if you enjoy adventurous theatre. Also, theatre that is exciting, heartwarming, and very moving. Great ensemble cast!
Don't see it if you only like conventional plays. This play is very inventive, clever, sharp, and moving.
See it if you want to be moved by a performance!
Don't see it if you don't like puppets. The puppets are used to GREAT, beautiful effect and they don't tell the story, only help embellish the story!
See it if You want to be dazzled with incredible performers, moving story (we cried a lot), fabulous musicians, actors, movers, and unique theatre.
Don't see it if You like traditional plays. This breaks every barrier. Knee-high is innovative and so smart and beautiful to watch.
See it if you enjoy creative staging with music, puppets and dance, appreciate stories of optimism amidst misery and like quirky appealing characters
Don't see it if you're turned off by WWII story told with humor, song & dance set during the London blitz, not a fan of cute puppets or active little girls
See it if You want to see beautiful storytelling! This is charming and childlike but not childish with very serious and heartbreaking content.
Don't see it if You're not willing to use your imagination or if you think that just because something is silly it can't be devestatingly heartfelt.
See it if you, like me, love all that Kneehigh does; you enjoy storytelling and the unique beauty and delight and impact that only theater can offer.
Don't see it if you don't like theatricality or puppetry or breaking of the fourth wall.
See it if You like a message with your family fun musical Like big band, dancing and singing Like puppetry and inventive staging
Don't see it if You're sensitive about heavy handed emotionality
See it if We thought this was a brilliant show based upon a true but under-reported event. A really super production
Don't see it if You want a po-faced drama. This is played mostly light but there is some drama too
See it if you would enjoy a super talented troupe of actors-dancers-musicians-singers-puppeteers dramatize a tragic incident before D-Day.
Don't see it if you think tragedy should not be wrapped in whimsy and brightness.
See it if story of British villagers impacted by a tragic WWII event, told with humor & great music; puppets (humans visible) that add to the story
Don't see it if don't like high energy performances, that often break the 4th wall, puppets, fluid band member/actor performances, fun
See it if You want to see an enchanting and " splendiferous " show that mixes music, puppetry, dancing and of course acting.
Don't see it if You think theater has to be old school. There is nothing " old " in this production, maybe not Kneehigh best show but it is still great
See it if Hopefully this lovely, touching play will come back to another venue sometime soon. Kneehigh Theater's joy and laughter are contagious
Don't see it if themes of unnecessary death in WWII would be too upsetting; it's sad, but it's beautifully done, with a light touch where necessary
See it if you would enjoy a wonderfully creative and energetic musical that is superbly crafted and performed
Don't see it if you are in the mood for something serious, but try to change your mood and go to see this
See it if This is an exuberant amalgam of almost all the elements of great theatre: music, staging, direction, sets, and acting combine to perfection
Don't see it if The script is fine but neither particularly lyrical nor powerful -- but it still manages to convey an emotional arc
See it if you're a fan of Kneehigh's work or if you enjoy a riveting true story told through the lens of brilliantly creative stage craft.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy puppetry, historical plays or heightened theatricality. If so, we can't be friends.
See it if You like creative shows using puppetry and unusual staging to tell the story. Kneehigh is one of the most inventive theatre companies ever!
Don't see it if Just go see it - it's fabulous.
See it if you want showmanship at its best. Miracles happen when a cast is both determined to make it fun for you and have fun themselves.
Don't see it if you'd rather listen to a 2-hr dinner table conversation culminating in a shocking revelation.
See it if You want to experience a fantastic story told through music, dance, puppetry, vivid color, larger-than-life acting & grand storytelling!
Don't see it if You aren't up for a bit of World War II and the characters & events that period of history invokes. Be willing to see through child's eyes!
See it if you want great, varied music, dancing, singing, puppets, humor, history and a moral, all performed by a diversely talented cast.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy history and/or musicals.
See it if ..you are interested in WWII history; like creative staging and storytelling through a child's eyes; like the vibes at St Ann's Warehouse
Don't see it if ...you are a history purist; don't mix fact and fiction
See it if you can appreciate a novel, entertaining portrayal of the horrors of war and the peculiar viewpoint of seeing it through a child's eyes.
Don't see it if you think anything about the horrors of war should be serious.
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