Going to the theatre with kids: I highly recommend it

Carousel Theatre, Shizuoka Kai, Go, Dog. Go!

Shizuka Kai’s design creates a stylish, magical world for Carousel Theatre’s Go, Dog. Go!

Yesterday, I took my six-year-old neighbour, Abraham, to see Carousel Theatre’s Go, Dog. Go! It was the first time that Abraham had ever seen a play.

The script is very simple. Based on P.D. Eastman’s book, it’s a lot like the old Dick and Jane readers, or the more basic material on Sesame Street: the author uses repetitive text and simple interactions among a group of dogs to introduce vocabulary and simple concepts that are often related to colour and space: “The red dog is in. The blue dog is out.”

But that description doesn’t begin to capture the fun. Designed by Shizuka Kai, Carousel’s production has a bright, picture-book look, complete with two-dimensional props, including outsized, flat ice-cream cones that the actors goofily pretend to lick. And those actors, especially the playful Allan Zynik—chief ice-cream licker—are having a very good time.

But the kids are the thing, really. A couple of little guys behind me were loudly perplexed by theatrical conventions at first: “That’s not like my book at home!” But they were soon so amused by the dogs’ antics, including their refusal to go to sleep when told, that they were chortling uncontrollably. (In case you haven’t heard it lately, kids’ chortling is the most intoxicating sound in the world.)

And the best thing of all was spending time with Abraham. When we were crossing the street to get to the theatre, I said, “Careful. There are lots of cars”, and he reached up and took my hand. Melt me and make me into a chocolate bar. And, when we were driving home, I said he seems to have a lot of fun playing hockey with his friends in the courtyard of the co-op where we both live. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “I like being goalie the best. Yesterday, I probably made 20 unforgettable saves.”

We’ll be going to the theatre again—to enjoy shows, and for the pleasure of one another’s company.