Four year old Ella has just been to see Christmas Tales with Granddad at Weston’s Tropicana Theatre, and I went along to keep her company. Her review of the show is ‘Great!’ and ‘I liked the funny tubes’.
I thought I should maybe say a little more than that about this magical little puppet show. I definitely agree with her that it was ‘great’ and it was nice to hear so many people saying how good they thought it was as we left. I suspect we weren’t the easiest audience to work with either, as there seemed to be a lot of shy children there and the audience participation never really took off. My daughter was enthusiastic with her head-shaking, nodding and whispering ‘she’s there!’ but she never quite found her voice.
Pickled Image are ‘A puppet company who make, perform and educate’ and this is the second show I’ve seen by them. The first was very good, and made me laugh hysterically but certainly wasn’t suitable for children. This show has a very different feel with its simple set, mostly Granddad’s room with old fashioned furniture and a warm cosy atmosphere. Some of the set also doubles up as a farmyard with some very creative use of different items. There are several characters, all performed by just two puppeteers who are seen and yet not seen throughout the show, on the stage but dressed all in black. Even at the end, when one of them appeared to take a bow, the other stayed hidden in plain view as ‘Granddad’ and my daughter, despite standing only a few feet away, is still not quite sure whether Granddad was real or not-real although she recognised the other puppets as puppets.
The whole thing was really well done, and perfect for younger children. The stories were simple but engaging, and the naughty pranks of the gnome were just wicked enough to be shocking to a four-year old (She stole a mince pie! She smacked the donkey on the bottom!). There were a couple of cheeky one-liners thrown in to make the adults chuckle too.
I’d definitely recommend this for a Christmassy trip with young children, it’s warm and funny and traditional-feeling, and this was a perfect start to the festive season for us.