When you find that you can’t stop humming the song to the children’s theatre production that you attended the previous day and you are considering looking for it online to play in the car, you know you are on to a winner. Touring the UK, Tiddler and other Terrific Tales, the much-loved book by the bestselling duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (‘there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo’!) is really as teriffic as it’s fishy tales. Four delightful stories adapted and woven together with funky music by the newly-founded Freckle Productions kept both my two and six year old captivated.
The three strong cast and production team keep it simple, thus encouraging the young audience to use their imaginatons. Anna Larkin, Alex Tosh and Maryam Grace bring everyday props to life – a huge cloth-eared elephant, simple pillow pets as Henrietta Hen and Billy the Goat are somehow more effective than any highly sophisticated props would be. Using brilliant mime, many different voices and of course lots of melodic, harmonious song, accompanied by some live on stage instrumentals, they really put on a show.
Simple but vibrant lighting sets the scenes, first in the jungle for Monkey Puzzle – the story that weaves the other three together and notably during Tiddler, when the eerie dark sea and scary shark is so beautifully depicted with the use of light and shadows.
The production is heartwarming, fun and just the right length for its target audience. Needless to say, it’s an adaptation that, as an adult, I wouldn’t think twice about seeing again. Go, the stories are fab with real messages (The Smartest Giant in Town becomes the Kindest Giant – for those not up on the stories), it’s warm, funny and colourful and has lots of catchy tunes to boot!