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Children's shows - reviews

The Gruffalo’s Child

Radlett Centre
Tuesday 30 April 2013, 4.30pm

On the day before a netmums survey revealed how much time children are spending on the internet, I would love to have taken all those who now think that kids spend all their time in front of computers, to see this full theatre of youngsters eagerly awaiting a live theatre experience.

It was heartening.

Tall Stories Theatre Company are unstoppable, and at the moment pretty much have the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptation market sewn up – with the classic tales simply, musically and lovingly recreated for the stage.

The Gruffalo is touring the US, Germany and Australia this year, after successfully entertaining audiences around the UK, the recording of which is one of V’s regular “go to” DVDs.

And its Room on the Broom was recently nominated for an Olivier award.

Physical performance

The Gruffalo’s Child, adapted and directed by Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell, moves the story on with the next generation of “terribly clawed” creatures.

Obviously scarred by his first experience, the Gruffalo says that no Gruffalo should “Ever set foot in the deep dark wood”.

But one night, his child ignores her father’s warning – as, let’s face it, youngsters often do, and leaves their cave to look for the fabled “Big Bad Mouse”.

Accompanied in the shadows by said rodent, the “child” meets the snake, the owl and the fox from the first story – all of which have moved on slightly from

There’s the Latino, rather camp, snake in a spectacular sequined jacket, the very British squadron leader owl who has got a little older, and the spiv, geezer-like fox, all of whom, after singing a song, are scared off by memories of the kid’s dad, before the mouse reveals itself.

Then, just as the young Gruffalo is about to eat it, the rodent saves itself using the light of the full moon.

Once again, with just three actors, a simple set and minimal props, the company creates a totally believable deep, dark wood and the whole gamut of characters in a physical, lively performance.

It’s also fast-paced, charming and funny – with witty asides that bring smiles to both adult and child faces.

The children, whether or not they had been dragged away from computer screens, were loving it, excited to see a familiar story brought to 3D life.

The songs, often quite ska-like, are catchy and when the audience aren’t tapping along to those, they are welcoming the characters who often come off the stage to speak directly to them.

As long as Tall Stories keep producing these gems, the parents who bring their young charges to see them, won’t have to worry too much about computer v live action balance!

The Snail and the Whale is coming this autumn – we can’t wait.

Running time

Just under an hour.

Age range

3+ – but if a younger child can sit through it, it’s fine. V saw The Gruffalo when she had not long turned two and there was no problem.

Other stuff

A range of merchandise from small cuddly toys for a tenner down to a poster/programme for £1 with activity and colouring books and CDs etc in between.

More information and tour dates can be found on the Tall Stories site.

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