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Children's shows - reviews

The First Hippo on the Moon

Alban Arena
4.30pm, 9 May 2017

We’d describe this as an hour of fun – much of which is devoted to talking about poos and farts, so what’s not to like?!

For adults it was more bearable than most, for a seven-year-old it could be described as one of the funniest shows she’d ever seen as the constant giggles showed. It appeals to all the family because as well as a clever script, there was some interesting puppetry to wonder at.

David Walliams’ picture book story of Sheila the Hippo who, in the style of Richard Branson, wants to be the first hippo on the moon, ahead of rival Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III, is quite a short one in print. This adaptation by Oliver Lansley and performed by Les Petits Theatre Company, manages, with the help of much excrement talk, to stretch it out to an hour – complete with funky songs and nice word play.

There are lots of puppets representing Sheila’s jungle friends, each of which are worked skilfully and given personality and voices by the five talented actor-puppeteers – and the gorilla’s song – which, even though it seemed to go on for about 20 minutes, was fun.

Another quarter of an hour was spent on all the animals doing a poo in order to provide ecological fuel for the rocket. And when that wasn’t enough, they got members of the audience to help – thankfully in the medium of mime. This was the highlight of the afternoon for the small ones.

Closely followed by the huge fart emitted by Sheila when she returns to earth.

They certainly squeezed out as much pootential as possible from that one concept and the excrement excitement rose throughout.

There’s also a nice space scene with rockets and stars floating around the stage as the hippo rather surreally heads to the moon in competition with Hercules and – SPOILER ALERT – gets there just before Hercules then nicks his rocket to get home, leaving him there. I had an issue with this. Not the best lesson really.

It’s cheeky and naughty and unless you mind talking about toilet habits for the rest of the day, it’s just a lot of fun.

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