Ever wondered what it would be like if every last hour, minute and second of your free time was taken away from you? Such is the situation for the characters in Michael Ende’s fantasy story Momo, which is currently playing at the Polka Theatre.
The production, which will also travel to Stratford Circus and the Greenwich Theatre in the coming weeks, combines storytelling, puppetry and an original score to tell the tale of a young girl determined to save her comrades – and their precious time – from the mysterious Men in Grey.
Intrigued by Ende’s enchanting tale of childhood, time and values, we caught up with six of the production’s cast members – Luisa Guerreiro, Kimberly Blake, Gavin James, Sandra Marvin, Charlie Folorunsho and Adebayo Bolaji – to find out what sort of fantasy world they’d like to inhabit, which moments of their past they’d like to steal back and who they consider to be their very own Momo.
If you could invent your own fantasy world, what would it be like?
Guerreiro: It would be a world where people can fly unassisted, and human beings and the natural fauna and flora of our world co-exist in a more balanced framework. We could breathe underwater and speak with animals.
Blake: It would probably be in the sky! Everyone would live in houses made of clouds and there would be flowers and amazing animals everywhere.
James: It would be quite simple. My fantasy world wouldn’t need any space ships. Nature and animals would feature heavily, but I would need good WiFi and a bath.
Bolaji: Something similar to Neverland in Spielberg’s Hook.
Who is the Momo in your life: the person you always turn to when you need someone to listen?
Guerreiro: I have a few Momo candidates and they are part of a very close friendship group I have known since secondary school and university. They are seven wonderful people who I can talk to about anything and are fantastic non-judgemental listeners.
Blake: Definitely my mother. She’s the most incredible woman alive.
Folorunsho: My ancestors. I feel that they always listen and respond in some way.
Marvin: I’m really fortunate to have a few Momos in my life. I love them all dearly. Everyone needs a Momo in their life.
James: My sister is a cracking listener, as is my mum, but sometimes I have to remind myself to actually listen to myself. I can get very swept away with big ideas and sometimes just need a bit of calm, fresh air to work my way around something in my own head.
Bolaji: My mum or better ‘Him upstairs’.
If you could bring back any moment from the past, what would it be?
Blake: Probably the moment I was on holiday in the Maldives. I was sailing on a big boat and saw a dolphin in the middle of the ocean and its beauty made me cry.
Folorunsho: When my daughter was born. I remember her stopping crying to listen to me saying ‘Welcome’.
Marvin: The last time my family were all together, happy and healthy.
James: 1995. It was my first year at university. Life was incredibly exciting but relatively simple and full of possibility.
Bolaji: Playing football and cricket on a hot summer’s day with my brothers and friends when I was a young teen. We would play for hours and then have hot dogs and cold drinks.
Childhood is an important subject in Momo. What are the fondest memories you have from when you were a child?
Guerreiro: Playing with my sister and making dens out of the living room table using duvets and umbrellas as ceilings and doors.
Folorunsho: Going to Chiswick House grounds on adventures with my brother and friends.
Marvin: Our Sundays. Sometimes my parents would decide to go on a little adventure. Food would be cooked and packed, and we’d all jump into the car. We had no idea where we were going (I guess my dad did but he never told us), then we’d end up somewhere like London, or the Lake District or an amusement park! It was always a big surprise.
James: I have a great family and we moved to a burnt out shell of a farmhouse surrounded by land when I was six, then spent the next five years or so doing it up. It was incredibly exciting.
Bolaji: Performing in youth theatre. It was simply for the love of it – no aspect of it being a job ever happened.
Momo is an orphan with a special talent. If you could have any special talent what would it be?
Guerreiro: The ability to ease suffering – mental and physical – by simply focusing on them. I like the idea that I could change people’s lives for the better and cure them of things that obstruct their lives being fulfilling and happy.
Blake: I would love to be a contortionist, then squeeze myself into a suitcase and sneak myself on to a plane to see the world!
Folorunsho: It would be to magic away all fear from people.
Marvin: To make people happy and feel loved.
Bolaji: Stand-up comedian. Laughter is an important part of life for me.
James: I think invisibility might be fun and I reckon flying could also save me some time. In more human terms I’d like to keep those closest to me healthy and free from as much emotional or physical pain as possible. That combined with a Euromillions win I think could be the secret to a happy retirement.