Leandro, at the Space (Roof Garden, Crossrail Place) (review)

We were very happy to be invited to see Leandro at the Space’s performance space at the Roof Garden in Crossrail Place – partly because it was such a sweet show put on by a lovely company, with a very positive message, and partly because we got to see a hidden corner of Canary Wharf which we had no idea even existed.

Plus, any excuse to travel somewhere on the DLR, as there’s always the chance that you might get the front seat and get to be the driver.

Leandro is a children’s show for ages 4+ which is touring until 16th August. Total Insight Theatre company is a not-for-profit community theatre company whose laudable aim is to produce affordable and accessible theatre for all.  More than 700 tickets to Leandro are free, and no paid ticket costs more than £7.  Moreover, it raises funds for Action for Brazil’s Children (ABC) Trust.  Already, knowing this, I was in a good mood.

When we arrived at the venue we were all put into a good mood.  The Space is a performance space based on the Isle of Dogs which also uses the performance space in the Roof Garden at Crossrail Space. I always get lost around Canary Wharf, but when we managed to find it we were bowled over. It was like a mini (and empty) version of Gardens in the Bay in Singapore (this is my post about it).  After doing some research, I discover that it was designed by Foster + Partners.

The Performance Space is just right for a children’s show and we were welcomed warmly by the theatre company. Leandro had a good-sized audience; we were seated on simple benches, almost sitting in the wonderful undergrowth, under cover yet also able to see up and out, onto the backdrop of the towers of Canary Wharf.

Leandro himself comes out to start the show, and he is a wooden puppet speaking Portuguese (until he realises that English might work better for us). Other than Leandro there are three cast members who help to tell the story about the boy who dreams of running for his country (Brazil) at the Olympics.  The use of singing and percussion (created by Ollie Tunmer) is notable – it is 6 days on and I am still singing the main song ‘Run’ which is sung by the cast a few times over, to the beat of empty paint pots and saucepan lids.

There is humour, for example the workmen finishing the stadium, and there is also a more serious side as we learn about the dangers of the favela where Leandro lives, as well as its poverty.  When Leandro comes across the Carnival in Rio, we also got to stand up and join in the dancing, and we were given bottles filled with rice to shake, to join in with that important Brazilian beat again.

I won’t spoil the ending (you ought to get out and see Leandro yourself before the end of the run), but I will say that the engaging cast and the sweet story really entertained us and gave us a lift that lasted all the way back to the DLR.  If you do miss Leandro, please go and check out the Roof Garden if you like a green, tropical, tranquil space, especially before the crossrail station opens there, currently scheduled for 2018.

For information about Total Insight Theatre, see this link.
For listings at the Space, see 
this link.
Disclaimer: We were given free tickets to see Leandro for the purpose of this review.  All opinions and photos are my own.  

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