ReviewSouth West

The Man Who Wanted to be a Penguin – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Reviewer: Marina Spark

Poet/Lyricist: Toby Thompson

Director: Niki McCretton

Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company brings a quirky Antarctic tale to The Drum at Theatre Royal Plymouth just in time for Christmas. This energetic piece is co-created with children, and it has the younger audience’s enjoyment at its very heart.

The audience’s imaginations are enlivened from the first moment, when we meet some tiny, feathered friends and a visitor from outer space. The audience swiftly finds itself in a garden shed in Plymouth, home to an eccentric and brilliant inventor who is sadly misunderstood by his grumpy neighbours. The action then transports the audience to deepest Antarctica, on the hunt for some penguins.

There is plenty of audience participation, with a section dedicated to teaching viewers how to speak penguin. The younger members of the audience are enthralled by the interaction and eagerly take part.

Both Loretta Hope and Jonny Hawkins show great strength as physical performers, it being unsurprising that they are respectively trained in circus aerial skills and mime/physical theatre. Young and old audience members are left in hysterics by these two, skilled performers. Hope shows particular ability at playing multiple roles and giving each character their own accent and physicality.

Music plays a pivotal role in this production with fun, sometimes surreal dance numbers taking place alongside an eclectic score composed and designed by Anthony Burbridge. The clever set, designed by Holly Miller (originally designed by Anna Kelsey), is compact and versatile. The performers use the set deftly in a way that makes the audience gasp at times.

On this whole this is a very pleasing children’s show and is enjoyed by all ages, however, at times it briefly loses momentum. There are occasionally lulls in the action; this can cause some of the younger audience members to lose attention towards the end of the piece.

The Man Who Wanted to be a Penguin is a heart-warming show with a positive message of embracing individuality and inventiveness.

Runs until 22 January 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Energetic and heart-warming

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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