exit-lines-logo1Taking the kids to New York this holiday season? Or want to get your city kids off our island for an action-packed hour? I have an idea for you, and it’s a “pip”–Pip’s Island, an interactive, immersive entertainment that runs for the next eight weeks.

My kids, ages 8 and 5, enjoy children’s theatre, but they were skeptical about this one. “This is a walking show?” asked my kindergarten boy. “Is there a lot of walking? My legs run out of walking sometimes.” I thought he could survive an hour, but I wasn’t sure what we were getting into. All I knew was what was on its website: “It is a sixty-minute live and interactive narrative that adventures its way through a dozen unique, hand-crafted environments. Over the course of the event, children earn five Spark badges by completing activities and puzzles that have been developed by the show’s writers, designers, and childhood development experts. Incorporating the latest curriculum guidelines and play trends, Pip’s Island is guaranteed to empower its audience through sheer wonder.”

That seemed like a tall order for an hour way down West 27th Street, close to the High Line for additional outdoor exploring before or after. But Pip’s Island lived up to its billing. With the kids suited up in their explorer outfits, and Mom and Dad tagging along as “assistant explorers,” off we went. My daughter, at age 8 on the high side of the recommended 4-10 and a Harry Potter maven, was skeptical. But she was quickly won over, and joined her teammates in their activities. Kids love to be given a purpose and swept up in an adventure, and this one has an engaging narrative that explores several facets of learning, like imagination and building, as their “Spark badges” light up as they help the characters, human, puppet, and animatronic, make their way to the lighthouse that powers the environment. Along the way: Slides! Rope swings! Bubbles! (Confetti) snow! And a character devoured by a large Grumble! (It all works out.)

Devised by the brother and sister team of Rania and Rami Ajami, this is a lively slice of edu-tainment, and we were happy to tag along with our explorers. With creative director Walter Kudrop they’ve rallied a first-class design team to conjure a variety of colorful spaces. The younger kids buy into the illusions without question, while the older ones (and their parents), invested but curious, enjoy seeing how the illusions are made, with fabrics and other tactile materials, moving lights, gobos, projections, and puppetry. An hour spent on Pip’s Island with your family is one well spent, and my son gave it a five-star five-year-old review, asking, “When can we see the walking show again?”

About the Author

Bob Cashill

An Editorial Board Member of Cineaste magazine, Bob is also a member of the Drama Desk theatrical critics society in New York. See what he's watching on Letterboxd and read more from him at New York Theater News.

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