“This is a tale of a tiny snail And a great big, grey-blue humpback whale.”
I adore Julia Donaldson, I’ve always read her books to the children and love the way her rhythmical rhymes trip of my tongue. When Super Kid and Robo Boy were smaller, and Wonder Girl was but a twinkle in her Daddy’s eye, Purpledad took the boys to see a stage show of The Gruffalo. Apparently it was excellent and I was sad to have missed it, but luckily for me the company behind it, Tall Stories, have made a show from another favourite of ours ‘The Snail and the Whale’. Even better I was invited to take the children to see it at a wonderful local theatre, The Tobacco Factory Theatre in Southville Bristol.
I took Robo Boy and Wonder Girl (Super Kid was in school) to The Tobacco Factory Theatre on Monday morning for a 10.30 show. Gathered outside the theatre was a crowd of excited small people and listening to Wonder Girl excitedly whisper “we see snailwhale” in my ear was delightful.
Once in our seats we were immediately transported into the action, as the actors play out a hide and seek scene amongst the audience, and the children in the audience join in, gleefully shouting out where the girl is hiding.
On the stage one of the actors is playing the violin, she is our narrator telling us a story from her childhood. About a young girl and her Daddy who is in the Navy and regularly goes away leaving her with her Mother. He’s telling her the story of The Snail and The Whale as a bedtime story the night before he leaves, but he doesn’t get to finish before he goes. So he records the rest of the story on a CD and sends it to her to listen to.
We listen to the story, and interspersed with this we see scenes from the past and the fun that the girl and her Daddy have together. Their relationship is the real delight in this story, as he indulges and engages with her and they have many adventures in her room together.
The show perfectly targets its intended audience of aged 4+, with lots of jokes, and masses of audience interaction. I particularly liked a scene in which they are pretending to be penguins, complete with comical wing dancing and penguin talking, we are encouraged to copy the action and I’m not sure who laughed more, me or my children.
It’s the perfect length at just short of an hour long, and even Wonder Girl, who is only two, manages to concentrate throughout. We really enjoyed it, and would recommend The Snail and the Whale to anyone with children aged four upwards.
The Tobacco Factory Theatre has a great program of family shows coming up, check the website for more details.
*Disclosure: We were given tickets to see The Snail and The Whale for the purposes of this review. My opinions are, as always, my own.