Ballooniana! by Alexander Knott.

Balloons have been featured for many years at birthday parties, weddings and events taking place across the world. Dedicating a play to three sections of history where travel using rockets, wings and balloons all feature is educational and entertaining. Please don’t be put off by the slightly sinister poster.

Freya Sharp and Zöe Grain entertain the audience upon arrival with traditional french style pierrot mime performance, interacting with the members coming in to take their seats while the duo “clown around”. The pair are joined later in the production by the very talented musician James Demaine.

In 1783 french brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier create the first hot air balloon. Their story is intriguing and based predominantly fact. They asked the King to sponsor their venture, who after some persuading agreed. I never knew that the King of France had ordered three animals to be the first to travel in their new invention as their lives were unimportant! Safe to say they all survived.

Writer and director Alexander Knott bring to the stage a cleverly scripted insight into “man’s” obsession with the sky, flying and what can be found above the clouds. From the early beginnings of Icarus to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, where he explains to the president that all he could see was black.

Looking back to when my daughter was 17 her only request was for two helium balloons of one and seven, the joy on her face when I presented them to her.

There’s a poignancy at the moment with the world on the brink of a third World War that this fascinating historical “carnival of creativity” should end by being played out by the 1984 Cold War protest hit by Nena “99 Red Balloons”.

Selected as part of the New Wimbledon Theatre’s season of new writing please use the links below for more information on this production and future work.

Four Stars



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