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Children's shows - reviews

The Gruffalo

Hertford Theatre, Hertford
4 April 2014, 4pm

What I like about The Gruffalo Live is that it’s children’s theatre as it should be.

They don’t just plonk familiar characters on the stage, tell a weak story, sing a few songs and hope for the best, it is a genuinely creative and engaging piece of theatre that, as an adult, I really enjoyed as well!

Yes, the Tall Stories theatre company is lucky to have Julia Donaldson’s story as the basis, but the tale of the plucky mouse who, while searching for nuts, scares off would-be predators with tales of a supposedly imaginary, monster – the Gruffalo – is told with humour and catchy songs.

It uses familiar lines from the book, plus extra dialogue that makes each character more three dimensional and adds depth and fun to the story.

There are just three performers, one plays the mouse, one the Gruffalo / storyteller and one who plays all of the predators – the fox, the owl and the snake.

The fox, dressed in a tweed jacket and cap is quintessentially British, the owl is a fighter pilot and the snake is decked out in sequins as a flamboyant showman playing the maracas.

It is almost two years to the day since I first took my then two-year-old to see this show and she was totally engaged from the start, giving a full running commentary.

Two years on, and many viewings of the original show DVD later, and the four-year-old V’s interest hadn’t waned in the slightest – the difference being she now pretty much knows the show off by heart including the words to the songs and duely sang along.

She also knew exactly when the Gruffalo would come on and pretended to hide under her seat – although as the monster character is a bit dim and therefore more funny than scary – the fake terror didn’t last more than a few seconds – mainly because she didn’t want to miss a thing.

Since our last visit, some extra lines have been added – my favourite being “Don’t Stop Til You Get a Nut” which actually made me laugh out loud – much to V’s annoyance and embarrassment!

It could be a risk taking a child to a show about a book they know so well, but I felt that seeing how it was lifted from page to stage was what fascinated V so much – it’s faithful to the story, just literally brought to life!

It’s charming, hugely energetic and most of all, lots of fun!

Length

Approximately 55 minutes without an interval.

Age range

Advertised as being suitable for ages three to 103.

Other stuff

Merchandise varied in price but there was a good selection ranging from books and CDs to soft toys and a felt picture of a Gruffalo on a stick. We got the show CD to play in the car – £8.00 – and sang all the way home!

For more information and tour dates visit the show’s website.

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