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Children's shows - reviews

The Elephantom


The Shed is a temporary venue at the National Theatre

24/2/14 – The Elephantom will be at the New London Theatre from 30 June-6 September 2014

The Shed at the National Theatre
4 January 2014, 11.30am

As I sat and watched four huge inflatable blue elephants boogying in front of me to Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart I started to wonder what had actually been in the Nurofen I had innocently taken for a headache the day before, but while The Elephantom is somewhat surreal it is mostly just brilliant!

Ben Power’s adaptation of Ross Collins’ picture book about a young girl and her ghost elephant friend is quite simply a joy from start to finish.

Co-directors and expert puppeteers Finn Caldwell and Toby Olie have put together a witty, fun with a great soundtrack and clever puppetry.

All this, coupled with very little dialogue makes it something that all ages and any nationality can really enjoy.

The story begins with a lonely girl, engagingly played by adult actor Audrey Brisson, whose parents don’t notice her problem underneath their well choreographed domestic rituals.

It cleverly builds over an hour from having one giant inflatable elephant appear from under her bed sheets and fly around the room causing chaos to having a set of naughty air filled elephants take over the stage and misbehave in a way reminiscent of a hen night on Ibiza.

They metaphorically trample on her parents controlled life until all the swooping and mayhem eventually gets out of hand and the girl pays a visit to spooky Spectral & Sons to find a solution to the problem.

This leads to a mysterious journey past a magical manifestation of hands through a maze of boxes until a remedy is found which shows that sometimes big problems require merely tiny solutions!

Extremely fast-paced physical theatre, the performers zoom around the intimate Shed studio space and really make the spectators feel they are truly part of the show especially when floating elephants spin into the front rows of audience., quite literally making their hair stand on end with static!

My nearly four-year-old was a teensy bit nervous at first, simply because she was not used to being so close to the action.

But she came to be amazed at seeing the performance at such close quarters was not only absolutely entranced but has not stopped talking about it since and even reenacted it before bed time using her elephant Pillow Pet.

This was a first trip to the National Theatre for V. I’m so glad it was such a magical experience but to be honest I wouldn’t expect anything else!

The production runs at the National until 11 Jan 2014 – but I hope it goes on tour!

V’s verdict

I think it was great – a bit scary sometimes but very good.

The wiggly bottom dancing elephant was very funny.

Running time: 1 hour

Age range: 4+ but younger siblings were enjoying it too. The only thing you need to be aware of is that if you are in the front row you are practically in the acting space so over enthusiastic youngsters need to know that they cannot run on and join in!

Other stuff

You can buy a very useful and informative programme for just £1 which includes small cut out parts so you can make your own Elephantom model.

Part of me was relieved that they hadn’t succumbed to selling small versions of the elephant outside but in truth I would have loved one!

They would certainly have made a killing as we, and I’m sure many others, wouldn’t have been able to resist shelling out!



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