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Children's shows - reviews

Emily Brown and The Thing

Radlett Centre, Radlett
1.30pm, 20 September 2014

Emily Brown and The Thing

The simple set reminded me of a pop-up book!

You know you are in for a good show when your four-year-old is belly laughing within the first few minutes of curtain up!

Granted it was the mention of the word “wee” that first set her off – second only to “poo” in words guaranteed to get a youngster giggling – but even that was mentioned later on for a Brucie bonus laughter sesh!

You can also always bank on Tall Stories to come with a winner – their Gruffalo has long been a favourite of ours – and Emily Brown is a another excellent take on a favourite book, this time by Cressida Cowelland Neal Layton.

This story follows the adventures of Emily Brown and her old grey rabbit Stanley, who hear a Thing crying outside their window at bedtime.

The Thing can’t get to sleep so the pair visit the Dark and Scary Wood, the Whirling Wastes and beyond, to find his cuddly, his bedtime milk and his medicine to find out what will help him sleep?!

Directed by Olivia Jacobs, this three-hander has everything to enthral children – it’s funny, imaginative and exciting with catchy musical numbers which add to the story rather than just being a break for a bit of a jig about.

Amongst the fun, it also has important messages about how it’s OK to be scared sometimes and it’s also good to conquer those fears with the show beginning and ending with recordings of adults and children talking about what might make them frightened.

The three actors – Anna Wheatley as tomboyish Emily, cheeky Sam Donovan and Chris Gunter’s hilariously camp Thing – throw themselves into the performance with excellent comic timing and very expressive faces!

With the added clever use of puppetry to play with scale, they kept up the immense energy and involved the audience throughout.

Children are the most honest audiences an actor can play to. If they are at all bored they’ll just try to wander off – or ask to go to the toilet!

So it’s once again credit to Tall Stories that they can hold the attention of an auditorium of youngsters for a good 50 minutes and I didn’t end up in the Ladies half way through.

Run time: 50 minutes with no interval.

Age range: Advertised as 3+

Other: There was mercifully no merchandise for sale!

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