THE GRUFFALO'S CHILD
Tall Stories at the Civic Theatre Chelmsford
“Wave at the mouse!” - a reassuring warm-up before we venture into the deep dark wood with the Gruffalo's Child, star of Julia Donaldson much-loved sequel.
This hour-long adaptation, with songs and dances as well as scary adventures, is a lovely introduction to theatre for the pre-school generation, directed for Tall Stories by Olivia Jacobs. Much is left to the imagination – the mouse's long, strong tale, for instance – and the story is framed in a bedtime comfort zone, with Duncan MacInnes's Gruffalo cuddling his look-alike daughter, played with child-like charm by Sophie Alice. The Mouse is strongly characterized by Catriona Mackenzie. MacInnes also gets to play all the predators – great quick-change fun – the sinuous snake, the owl in his cardigan, the fox in his sequinned tail-coat.
The songs are catchy in a timeless, PlaySchool style – Stick With Me [for the Stick Man], I Could Sell the Sunshine [for the spivvy Fox] and Big Bad Mouse especially memorable – and there are movements for everyone to join in.
A simple flexible setting [Isla Shaw] with stylised, friendly trees, a huge paper moon and a shadow mouse make this charming show visually interesting too.
Plenty of merchandise, of course, but at least there was a free souvenir programme, with a picture to take home and colour in ...