Well, I never thought the time would come that the only ‘gig’ I would be going to in the first two years of Toddler PCG’s life would be this. There was Depeche Mode that I was determined to see (twice), we were invited to Bruce Springsteen (too expensive – read ‘broke and too tired anyway!’) and not forgetting the festivals that I was definitely going to attend; the ones that I missed out on in my youth when I hadn’t had any interest and anyway, they hadn’t been so ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’ the either!
So, needless to say, we don’t get out much. Saturday morning arrives. Bright and early for the first performance at 10am (yes, we had slept the night before, this time), doors opening at 9.30 (it’s not full when we arrive late,for me at 9.45, given that the audience members were all unreliable and uncontrollable so, never on time and of course they brought their parents too).
We are in a giant inflatable tent in Richmond Deer Park and we are here bringing Toddler PCG, aka Alexander to see his first ever, favourite show on TV – In the Night Garden Live!, along with hundreds of other parents and their toddlers all with exactly the same idea. What could be better than all their favourite characters from the hit Cbeebies show coming alive in life-sized versions of their TV selves? Along with breathtaking projections on the ceiling of the dome , actors dressed as gardeners skillfully moved puppets around the stage.
I have never seen Alexander so enthralled. From the moment the opening theme tune started playing he couldn’t quite believe what was happening and then Iggle Piggle appeared on the stage floating in his boat – just like on the television. The adults all sang the familiar songs to and with their children and it felt as though we were caught up somewhere in a very surreal, theatrical dream world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many content and quiet toddlers in an enclosed space before. You wouldn’t think that they could manage an hour of concentration but seeing Makka Pakka in real life in an enchanting purpose-built, blowup showdome seemed to have a hypnotic effect on the little ones and for the adults too, from my point of view as a first experience, it’s a brilliant one to have – not too serious, not in the slightest bit ordinary and a brilliant introduction to culture for the very, very young.