Music: James Atherton
Writer: Mike Kenny
Director: Gilly Baskeyfield
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
The “Punch and Judy” style opening sees the actors peer their heads above the curtains onstage. That signals that we’re off to the circus. Well, not just yet. The story begins with Pa, he has a job as a window cleaner (but he’s terrible at it) so it’s time for a career change. Pa, his wife Ma and daughter Titch are exceedingly good at balancing and acrobatics. So much so they are asked to join a circus in Africa, where Titch adopts a tiger cub, and the story handsprings on from there.
Titch is played by Sophia Hatfield, Owen Gaynor is in the role of Pa, and Nicola Jayne Ingram is the character Ma. They form the strong “Three Musketeers” ensemble who narrate and breathe life into this adventurous and fun-spirited story. All three are multi-talented performers who can play instruments, sing, act, and have circus skill ability. An hour-long children’s show, such as this, requires a heightened performance style throughout to keep the children engaged. Hatfield maintains the right performance level constantly, however, the other two actors do not seem to match with her level for the most part.
As the audience walk along the tight-rope of the story, there is this running theme of the narrative been made up as it goes along; the ensemble think about alternative plots and ideas to present to the audience. This makes the show fun, playful, and alive. The aside moments in the script make sure the children are never forgotten about. Kenny’s writing is entertaining and humourous, but also tackles darker issues such as animal cruelty, which is educational and important for the children to understand. The punchline ending is that the story is actually based on a true story, a tiger called Fenella was actually adopted by a family of acrobats. Although, this isn’t really a punchline ending because it mentions this in the flyer and the programme for the show.
Atherton’s music fits just right into the production and the songs are well written, bringing out the key messages in the show for the children. One song in particular, examines various archetypal story models, which is refreshing and amusing. The aesthetically pleasing set features a travelling cart with luxuriant red and velvet stage curtains. Packed into the cart is suitcases and barrels, which double up as chairs and a table. It looks magical when the set is transformed into a big top circus tent with hanging lights. A beautiful design by Joss Matzen.
The performance is tightly choreographed by TC Howard, using physical theatre in an imaginative and stylised way to tell the story. A Tiger’s Tale is sweet and light-hearted fun for all the family. It exhibits how the “ordinary” moments in life can be “extraordinary”.
Reviewed on: 25th March 2018 | Image: Contributed