Gorilla Gardening at the Bristol Old Vic


This morning I went with my 2 daughters aged 5 and 2 to see Gorilla Gardening at the Bristol Old Vic.

 I’m partial to a little bit of gorilla gardening.  And gorilla knitting, but that is another story! But how would this tale for 0 – 7 year olds explore the subject? As we took our seats we soon noticed that the actors were already on the stage, interacting with some of the younger audience members in the front row. Each actor had an animal that they were bringing to life. There was a caterpillar, a frog and a beetle, and the actors were encouraging the children to give them names and to talk about them. This welcoming, easy going approach continued through into the performance as we’re told to feel free to stand up, walk about and talk with our children about the play as it progressed.

 Gorilla Gardening introduces children to the idea that there are friendly Gorillas hiding in our gardens and open spaces who come out at night when no one is looking in order to plant seeds, tend to the vegetables and clear away the weeds. ( I could do with some of these in my garden!) The main character begins the piece absorbed in and distracted by her headphones and music but soon changes when she meets a gorilla and hears of their green fingered antics. Great use was made of the props to hide flowers and vegetables that sprang up around the colourful set as the play progressed and the garden really came to life.  Each actor brought lots of energy and movement to their character.

 My youngest got a little restless during the first 10-15 minutes of the play as it was mostly mime but soon engaged when the actors started talking. When the play finished she turned to me and said “I enjoyed that”. From a 2 year old that is praise indeed!

 This is a fun, colourful and enjoyable piece of theatre but also serves as a call to action for our little ones, encouraging them to grow something, anything. We were all given a little packet of seeds on the way out to take away with us in the hope that it will bring the Gorillas to our garden too! My five year old was enthused, and so excited to see what grows from her little packet of seeds.

If this is your first experience of kids theatre, you will be lucky enough to get a double whammy. This show will engage your little ones and begin a love affair with the theatre, but will also make them want to get outside and grow. What a brilliant best of both worlds.

Gorilla Gardening is on tomorrow, Wednesday 27th May.

Review by Karen Blake

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