As promised I’m back with my second review in a fortnight of a Julia Donaldson modern classic taken to the stage. This time its ‘The Gruffalo Live’ everyone’s talking about and I’m going to let you know why!
Playing at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue from 23rd November until 15th January makes it a perfect treat for either the run up to Christmas or for afterwards when the excitement is dying down, perfect for softening the blow. Just as with ‘Stick Man Live On Stage’ which we reviewed last week, the original story of ‘The Gruffalo’ is by Julia Donaldson with illustrations from Alex Sheffler and it’s transportation to the stage is just as electrifying. Being produced by a completely different company, the critically acclaimed Tall Stories Theatre Company, ensures that it’s an entirely different experience and frankly I feel very lucky that we have had both!
Superbly directed by Olivia Jacobs the three actors take on all the roles from the story just as we know it from the book. Mouse enters the deep dark wood in search of nuts determined not to be afraid of the dangers that lurk within. With his wiley charm, wit and tall stories of a ‘Gruffalo’ friend he manages to foil the attempts of Fox, Owl and Snake to take him back to their lairs and have him for their tea! His made up character of ‘The Gruffalo’ may just come back to bite him on the bottom though and if that happens how will he fend off being someone’s tea then?!
The performances which are outstanding and encourage audience participation are assisted by mostly unfussy costumes and few props preferring movement and music to achieve their goal. I’ve said it before but I’m a massive fan of ‘less is more’ when it comes to set design for the theatre and I think that Isla Shaw who provided her input for this production has it just right. From the slinky snake using only maracas and shiny scarves to support his acting, to the back drop of trees with a central focal point within which the actors hide and change, it really doesn’t need anything more. What it does have is used very cleverly. I also especially enjoyed the songs which were brilliantly catchy and the movement/dancing which was spot on with every step being beautifully synchronised. If you don’t believe how catchy the tunes are then just head over to the website www.thegruffalolive.co.uk where you can hear for yourself the main song which we, as an audience, were encouraged to sing along with at!
It is suggested that ‘The Gruffalo Live’ is for children aged 3+ and their adults to come and enjoy songs, laughs and scary fun! Well Florence is nearly two and she thought it was fab so I guess you just have to decide for yourself if ‘The Gruffalo’ would be too scary or not. It’s true there were some ‘scary’ moments and Florence did bury her head on my shoulder for those; I can see why they suggest an age of 3+ but I also think that despite those few moments Florence had a really fun time. I think she even quite liked the scary parts! So what’s right with it? Everything I’ve already said plus the fact that the theatre staff are so helpful. There is a safe place to store buggies, not many stairs to negotiate once inside and the ticket prices won’t break the bank, starting at just £13 (it’s also great to know that babies in arms go free)! What’s wrong with it? Not a lot really, I would suggest that they could offer booster seats for smaller ones as other theatres often do but that’s about my only criticism. Performances start at either 10 or 11am or 12 or 2pm. For the full schedule see the website stated above and to book tickets log onto www.nimaxtheatres.com or call the box office on 0844 412 4661.
If you like me are in the Christmas Spirit already then this will make a perfect accompaniment to your mood and if you feel like reading about more of my Christmas antics then do head over to my other blog linked below where I have lots of reviews of all things Christmas as well as loads more! You also might like to know that there are lots of Christmassy events happening at Somerset House at the moment and all absolutely free! From famous children’s books read by some familiar faces to holiday drop in workshops Somerset House has a great free programme for children throughout the year but this month it’s especially lovely with it’s Christmassy touches. For more information do visit their website www.somersethouse.org.uk. So from now until next time, keep having fun in this fabulous London Town of ours!