Writer: David Wallaims
Company: Les Petits
Reviewer: Clare Boswell
Based on the bestselling book by David Walliams, the critically acclaimed production of The First Hippo on the Moon has been adapted by acclaimed award winning Theatre company Les Petits, is currently on tour and myself and my young companions (aged 5 and 2) had the pleasure of seeing it at The Lowry Theatre in Salford. The show, which runs at just under an hour, brings Walliams’ delightful book to life, with an abundance of impressive puppetry, catchy songs and some genuinely hilarious moments.
Fans of the best-selling book will already know the tale of Sheila, beautifully played in a hippo costume by Alice Bounce, who aspires to be the first hippo to travel to the moon. Unfortunately, her rich and famous rival Hercules has already made plans to get there before her, so the race is on to discover who can reach the moon first
This is undeniably children’s theatre of the highest standard and one of the most appealing parts of this charming production must be the menagerie of puppets ably brought to life by the five strong cast consisting of Alice Bounce, Dominic Allen, Lauren Buckley, Owen Jenkins and Rosie Nicholls. All four actors used their voices and bodies marvellously to add further magic and thrill and excite their predominately pre-school audience. Captivating an audience of this age is not an easy task but Bounce, Allen, Buckley, Jenkins and Nicholls all created an effortlessly comfortable rapport from the outset, never wavering into pretension or condescension. The hilarious moment of collecting poo from the audience to fuel the rocket’s engine was a particular favourite and very popular with both the younger and older spectators.
The First Hippo on the Moon delights on all levels but the jewel of this production is undoubtedly the original musical score. The swing number by Silver Bob (voiced by Owen Jenkins) has more than a few parallels with King Louis’ number in The Jungle Book but all the songs are pacy, engaging and wonderfully delivered by the cast. There are some also some lovely visual treats in along the way with an extremely creative use of lighting to convey Sheila’s ascent into space while the simple yet effective set, comprising mainly of palm trees which are regularly moved around, offer some impressively surprising entrances and exits.
With wonderfully crafted storytelling and puppetry, this is a truly spectacular theatrical offering and one which both children and adults alike cannot resist being swept away by.
Reviewed on 25th June 2017 | Image: Contributed