Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
30 December 2012, 10.00am
Tall Stories’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book is a thoroughly enjoyable hour in which the story of a rather scatty witch who keeps having her belongings blown away while riding through the air on her broomstick with her cat, is literally brought to life.
With the help of a dog, a bird and a frog, the lost belongings are retrieved. But the witch kindly lets them all travel with her, and as the broomstick is not meant for five, it snaps in two and she falls to the ground where she is at the mercy of a hungry dragon who wants to eat her with chips.
It’s an exciting adventure from the company which adapted The Gruffalo for the stage and is known for presenting timeless stories in new and exciting ways.
It’s not an easy task to take a much-loved book and translate it into drama but once again, Tall Stories manage it with style and flair, following the basic story but including amusing embelishments that make it enjoyable for all ages.
You have a witch who is a bit scatty and has a penchant for Ferrero Rocher, a very protective cat, a lovable dog with an ever-wagging tail, a bird who sounded like X-Factor star Rylan and a cheeky country and western style frog.
The dragon of course is Welsh and was my toddler’s favourite – it always worries me how she is drawn to the villains in every show! Played by Sam Donovan, he was, however, more charismatic than scary so I could see her point!
Four cast members frame the story as a bunch of friends camping in the woods and then use creative physical theatre, masterful puppetry and original music with clever lyrics to tell the story when they believe they have seen a witch in the sky.
Morag Cross is wonderful as the un-scary witch, who bumbles along with her rubbish spells and is too kind to turn any of her new found friends away, and Emma MacLennan plays the cat with a fine balance of being bossy and protective, but ultimately loveable.
The multi-tasking David Garrud and Sam Donovan manipulate puppets of the dog, bird and frog using an hilarious range of accents. The puppet masters are in full view of the audience, but are so skilful that you tend not to notice.
The show is also cleverly staged by director Olivia Jacobs, so that these animals are passed between performers, to ensure they all get on the broom.
The original music is so catchy that I was singing the final song all the way home in between bickering with my husband over some of the lyrics! “Iggety, ziggety, zaggety zoom,” I boomed out in the car while he quibbled over the positioning of my zaggerty.
V was pretty much engaged throughout. She knew what was coming next, shouted out which animal was coming up and loudly pointed out when they arrived on the stage. She did keep wanting to stand up but that was mainly because she wanted to dance.
When you have a child who knows a book off by heart, they need to feel part of an experience, be talked to directly and required to use their imagination to get something more.
This is what Room on the Broom has – energy, heart and far more than a recreation of the story on the stage.
Running time: 55 minutes
Recommended age: 3+
We got a programme for £2.50 and a Room on a Broom image on a stick for £3.50, although in retrospect we should have left buying the stick until afterwards as the parent in front of us nearly had his head whacked a number of times!
You could also get a Room on the Broom CD for £8 but the rest of the merchandise related to The Gruffalo – which obviously sells!