Fans of the late 1980s indie band The Wonder Stuff will probably be the only people disappointed by this gentle, beautiful show. Rather than a stage imagining of the shaggy-haired outfit’s second album of the same name, Hup is a magical experience for the very youngest of kids, featuring a playful raccoon and a band of classical musicians.
The room is laid out with trees and soft green carpet for the shoeless audience to loll about on. Kids are encouraged to roam free. A violinist enters playing a simple, elegiac tune. Another enters, harmonising. A cellist adds a spine-tingling layer of bass. As the children look from one musician to another, you can almost see the sparks behind their eyes as synapses fuse in wonder.
The very loose plot involves a cute raccoon playing with the musicians, gradually encouraging them to dress up in the black and white garb of its kin. The raccoon also interacts with the kids, sometimes through just simple eye contact, sometimes with streamers and puppets. It is all so, so careful and wee ones lap it up.
Crucially, for a show produced by Starcatchers in collaboration with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the music is great. For parents with small children, most music is reduced to tinny, high-pitched nursery rhymes embedded by Satan into toys to play on an eternal loop. So the original compositions here, all lilting chord progressions that invoke a bucolic serenity, is like the relief of a cool towel on a feverish brow. Hup does what the best kids shows do. It restores a sense of magic and wonder in the oldest, and introduces this vital gift to the very youngest.