What do you want from children's theatre? When you have figured that out, it’s easy to decide if Where is Peter Rabbit? is for you. With a plethora of razzmatazz shows featuring glitter, lights and special effects filling the West End, this show is arguably the complete opposite. Not really the most ground-breaking piece of theatre in town, it is exceedingly watchable.
Based on Beatrix Potter’s - some might say 'dated' - quaint illustrations and stories, this is a 60-minutes gentle stroll through five of the tales of her delightful animal creations. With a simple set, projections and some beautifully made puppets, the tales are brought to life through both song and storytelling.
The entire cast has transferred from The Old Laundry Theatre's production in The Lake District with wholesome and pretty Joanna Brown undertaking the role of eponymous Beatrix Potter herself, while the 19th Century author's animals are brought to life by Caroline Dalton's authentic puppets. The puppet of Lucy is so realistic, I actually had to look twice after I first assumed there was a child in the show! Narration courtesy of Miriam Margolyes and Gryff Rhys Jones adds extra sparkle and weight to proceedings.
The appearance of five Mr McGregors onstage at one time tickled Mini Sardines as he rolled around in his seat, as one by one another grumpy gardener appears from the wings with his trademark wheelbarrow full of homegrown produce.
With CBeebies showing the modern animated version of the Peter Rabbit stories (with a suitably upbeat theme tune), it’s nice to see a return to a more traditional, gentle and simple version of Beatrix Potter’s stories that have kept children entertain for decades. You could argue that the stories might require some updating in this technologically obsessed world but I like the thought that there’s still a place for such sweet stories, entertaining tales and innocent fun.
Now he is six, this particular production is probably a little on the young side for Mini Sardines but he sat and watched transfixed for the entire sixty minutes and talked about the show afterwards - which is always a good sign. For those little ones who are just starting to visit the theatre, and the world of Beatrix Potter, it’s a lovely production to take them to.
Catch them at Theatre Royal Haymarket until Easter, where the new musical of Only Fools and Horses gives way during the day.
More at: www.peterrabbitlive.com