Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales
Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales at The Churchill Theatre:
When I was offered tickets to review the children’s show, ‘Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales’ I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to invite back guest reviewer Caroline Essenhigh and her daughters to review this one for me. Over to Caroline:
‘Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales’ brings together four of Julia Donaldson’s best-known stories by way of rhymes, music, clever staging and a trio of actor-singer-musicians.
Accompanied by my two daughters, just-5-theatre-fan and a spirited two-year-old, we heard about a well-dressed giant, a house full of animals, a monkey searching for his Mum, and the little lost fish with the big imagination of the show’s title.
The pace is brisk, and the enthusiasm for the stories oozes from the trio, who switch between stories and styles with ease – a jungle jazzy feel for Monkey Puzzle leads into hoe-down for A Squash and A Squeeze.
The set for Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales is cleverly designed and adapts to each story – essentially two stepladders, a plank of wood between them and a range of boxes and baskets, allows the trio to create levels, which is useful when portraying characters including a giant, and situations like fishermen in a boat with the sea below.
The way in which the animals are portrayed is especially inventive – a school of fish worn on a hat, a scarf which becomes a snake, pillow farm animals, and shadow-work to portray the dark underwater world in which Tiddler finds himself. These less-literal, more-implied props encouraged my just-5-theatre-fan to use her imagination, and she exclaimed in wonder when these everyday items ‘became’ the various animals and objects. The staging and props really reflected the illustrations by Axel Scheffler seen in the books, so were familiar to the children.
Although it was a slick and innovative production which was never boring for the small people, I felt it was a little bitty at times. It was often difficult to hear the dialogue and lyrics. Despite this, both children were fairly engaged with the production – but for me, it somehow lacked heart. Reflecting afterwards, I wondered whether the classiness of the detail; the harmonies, the musicians and the inventive staging, was lost in such a big theatre, making it difficult for the small people to be as captivated as they should have been, or as much as this production deserved.
To find out what else the Churchill Theatre has on, visit their website here. Upcoming shows include The Jungle Book and Bring Your Own Baby Comedy.