Above... Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales - Leonie Spilsbury, Brian Hargreaves and Lauren Silver. Photo: Robin Savage
Gone are the days where you had to look far and wide for decent children's theatre. These days we are awash with quality entertainment, especially if based in and around London. As parents, quite rightly demand their money's worth, poorer productions don't last but those offering entertainment worth forgoing a few G&Ts for are gaining momentum.
Today's offering is Freckle Production's version of Scamp Theatre's Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales. A fulsome quartet of homegrown bedtime stalwart Julia Donaldson's lesser-known but equally popular stories - Tiddler, a cheeky fish that's always late; Monkey Puzzle with a lost primate; the moany old lady in A Squash and a Squeeze and The Smartest Giant in Town, who wasn't that smart after all.
Mini Sardines has every Donaldson book in his vast library and knows all the words. He knows these stories inside outside, upside down and sitting on the loo. He's a tough crowd but about ten seconds in he had cracked. The whole audience had. Freckle Productions have done their job to perfection.
Directed by none other than the celebrated Sally Cookson (La Strada, Peter Pan, Jane Eyre, Hetty Feather), a trio of dapper actor-musicians (Brian Hargreaves, Lauren Silver & Leonie Spilsbury) cleverly weave a path through the quartet of stories and a myriad of characters. Using puppets, toys, inanimate random objects and some clever pieces of furniture, we are transported between the stories' fluidly in a fully immersive production of singing, music, storytelling and a bit of bottom wiggling that always goes down well with children.
Sticking faithfully to the original stories, the production itself veers off on a colourful, visual journey, resplendent with original songs and a battalion of characters. A pleasant 55-odd minutes, the time passes quickly as they are so entertaining and engrossing.
The interpretation of each book differs in style (the Deep South setting for A Squash and a Squeeze was inspired) and weaving Monkey Puzzle throughout the other stories is an effective and successful idea, it keeps the audience wanting more.
When you see theatre as regularly as we do, it becomes hard to decide what's best, what's the most enjoyable; we are spoilt for choice these days. There is something utterly enchanting that draws you into this production. A delightful balance of music, songs, physical theatre and colourful montages that are worth every gin-soaked pound.
In residence until September at this gem of a West End venue - an ideal Summer holiday treat for the family.
More information, tickets and times here
Below... Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales - Leonie Spilsbury, Brian Hargreaves and Lauren Silver. Photo: Robin Savage