If you’re looking to keep your children entertained during the summer holidays, Freckle Productions have the solution. The newly formed company are currently resident in Leicester Square Theatre with an hour- long show based on stories by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (best known for creating The Gruffalo). Using puppetry, music and physical theatre, they tell several different stories that will no doubt be familiar to many children already.
As well as the tale of Tiddler (the tiny fish who loves to make up stories), we meet Monkey (in ‘Monkey Puzzle’) and ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ (George), and hear about ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’. Monkey’s story is told in three sections, whilst the others are told in one go. This is a good approach, as the audience is given something to keep in the back of their minds, but there’s not too much for the younger patrons to have to really concentrate on.
Leicester Square Theatre may not be the most ideal venue for a children’s show, as the seating is very poorly raked (in the first few rows it’s practically non-existent) and so could be problematic with a mixture of young and old in the audience. However, good use is made of height onstage; with no actions too low down, most things should be visible for everyone.
The music (Benji Bowers) is charming, quirky, and rather catchy. The cast perform some of it onstage, using various instruments such as an accordion and saxophone. Chris Pirie’s puppetry design is rather memorable, with Monkey made up largely of cords but still looking realistic.
Brian Hargreaves, Leonie Spilsbury and Lauren Silver make an enthusiastic cast, and have obviously become rather proficient in throwing and catching, as there’s quite a lot of it in the show! Their physicality is second-to-none and holds the audience’s interest even when little is being said.
Shows like this are the ideal way to get your child interested in theatre, as it’s very focused on storytelling but in manageable chunks. It’s on the cusp of being too long, as some children began to get quite fidgety, but their enjoyment was unmistakable. More like this, please!
My verdict? A cute and quirky show that’s fun for all tiddlers – a great way of introducing the younger generation to theatre.
Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales runs at Leicester Square Theatre until 3 September 2017. Tickets are available online or from the box office.