Family Show Review: The Gruffalo’s Child Live Stage Show, Hertford
The Gruffalo's Child Live Stage Show, Hertford
Things We Like
- An enjoyable original performance which expands on The Gruffalo's Child book
- The costumes and set were impressive - particularly The Gruffalo and Gruffalo's Child
- Great entertainment for the whole family
Things We Dislike
- £13 each for 1 hour is arguably a little pricey
- Is a little scary in places for a young audience
- More audience participation and interaction for the kids would be good
What’s It All About?
Adapted from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children’s book, The Gruffalo’s Child is a fun and entertaining live stage show from Tall Stories which expands on the tale of the little Gruffalo’s hunt for the big, bad mouse.
What Do We Think?
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child are two of our daughter’s favourite books, so it didn’t take much consideration for us to buy tickets to The Gruffalo’s Child live stage show when it started its UK tour 2018 and came to Hertford.
What we watched was an impressive performance inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s follow-up book to The Gruffalo. However, it was more than just a simple recounting of the story which sees the Gruffalo’s child venture into the deep, dark woods in search of the big, bad mouse.
They’ve stayed true to the classic book but also brought new ideas and imagination to plump up the story line and expand on certain themes. This results in additional scenes and dialogue not in the book, along with a number of catchy songs, which help to flesh out the much-loved book.
Probably the best example of this is the ‘role’ of Stick Man. If you’ve never noticed, the Gruffalo’s Child actually has a stick she carriers that looks like Stick Man. In this production, more was made of that fact – for example, the Gruffalo tells her that she’ll be protected from the big, bad mouse if she has Stick Man with her, which inspires a ‘sticking together’ song throughout the show.
The entire production was impressive. It isn’t quite a West End show, but it’s certainly a lot more than a local am-dram group. This is best shown in the set design and costumes. The set is simple, but really effective, and comprises of a cave and trees which are moved around the stage by the actors – most notably to reveal the large Gruffalo. The costumes are great too, particularly the intricate, multi-coloured Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child.
There were just the three performers on stage, although it felt like more. Christopher Smart played the Gruffalo’s Child, Georgia Wall was the Mouse / Narrator and Jack Kelly played The Gruffalo / Snake / Owl / Fox.
Each of the performers were great, but Jack Kelly was the pick of the bunch, largely due to the versatility of playing four roles in very different ways. Snake was given a Mexican flavour, Owl had a touch of military about him and Fox was given a hint of an East End wheeler-dealer. A little surreal, but it really helped to distinguish the characters.
There were a number of catchy songs sang throughout the show, with each animal having a ‘themed’ song for them. This sometimes included audience participation – for instance, clapping like a crocodile – however, I felt like more could have been made of the young audience. 55 minutes is a long time for small children to sit and watch without that much interaction and participation.
Something to note, particularly when compared to other similar children’s theatre shows like Stick Man Live and Tiddler And Other Terrific Tales by Freckle Productions, is that The Gruffalo’s Child was definitely darker and scarier. We’re not talking on the same level as The Blair Witch Project or The Exorcist, but there was a fair bit of crying when the show started among the under 3’s in the audience. This was probably a combination of it being dark, the music and the costumes.
As the show went on, it was clear that not all of the young audience were captured by what they were watching either. Our 4-year old daughter loved it and was enthralled throughout, but some of the younger children soon started messing around as their interest waned.
This isn’t the fault of the performance – I think it’s more to do with the age of those children and the parental assumption that a show about the Gruffalo’s Child is likely to be all happy clappy. In reality, it has some of those elements, but it’s also more dramatic and ‘scary’ than that. As such, I’d really be recommending it as an over 3’s show.
All in all, our daughter really enjoyed the show – and we did too. It’s definitely worth catching if it tours somewhere near you.
What Does It Look Like?
No photography or recording was allowed during the performance, so unfortunately we were unable to get any photos during the show.
What Do I Need To Know?
Type: Theatre, Live Show
Dates: 28th to 30th June 2018 in Hertford, with a UK tour from May 30th to January 6th 2019.
Price: £13 each, (babies in arms free)
Duration: 55 mins (no interval).
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).