CentralChildrensDramaFamilyFestive 15/16Review

The Gruffalo’s Child – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

Director: Olivia Jacobs
Writers: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Reviewer: Nicole Evans

The Gruffalo’s Child was feeling brave
So she tiptoed out of the gruffalo cave
The snow fell fast and the wind blew wild
Into the wood went The Gruffalo’s Child

These are words that many children both know and love and, with the success of previous theatrical developments of Julia Donaldson books behind them, it was only natural for Tall Stories to try their hand at The Gruffalo’s Child. First opening in 2005, and gaining new audiences as the books continue to be popular, the show appears to have gone from strength to strength and is showing no signs of losing its touch.
Those who know the tale well will agree that the idea of spreading out the concept across a whole hour is quite a daunting task – even the slowest of readers could be done in 10 minutes – so keeping our attentions for 60 is quite a challenge. With a very simple staging consisting of not much more than a few trees, two of which are movable, and the backdrop of a full moon, it is down to the actors to do most of the work in the way of creating the atmosphere. This starts with Mouse, who appears on stage just before the house lights go down. Played by Catriona Mackenzie, Mouse’s rôle is somewhat diverse, concurrently being prop-hand, narrator and mouse himself throughout. Mackenzie switches between her rôles with such creative fluidity that we are utterly captivated by her every squeak and the elegance in her movements seems so, almost impossibly, mouse-like we can’t help but adore her as she follows the Gruffalo’s Child around the set from start to finish. Sophie Alice takes on the rôle of Gruffalo’s Child and her child-like mannerisms and expressions make for a superbly executed performance that enchants every child in the room and the interactions between her, Mackenzie and Duncan Macinnes, who takes on the rôle of Gruffalo and all of the other animals with impressive versatility, are completely mesmerising and truly are the icing on the Gruffalo Crumble.
With songs you’ll be singing all evening (whether you like it or not), just the right amount of spookiness for the intended age group, and sublime creativity with dance, movement and roving trees, this is a performance guaranteed to exceed expectations. Tall Stories does it again.
Runs until 3 January 2016 | Image: Geraint Lewis

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