The Gruffalo at The Bristol Old Vic
On the way to the Bristol Old Vic theatre today to see ‘The Gruffalo Live’ my 5 year old girl loudly proclaimed “Mummy, I am too old for The Gruffalo now. I am NOT going to enjoy it.” Well, she enjoyed the train ride to Bristol. She enjoyed drawing in her book and eating her cheese sandwiches. She loved that I bought her an ice cream BEFORE the show started. And once in the theatre, I saw her face light up, and her curiosity stirred as she chatted about the deep dark wood that had been recreated on the stage. “Mummy, is there going to be a real Gruffalo? Not that I’m scared…”
‘The Gruffalo Live’ is a production by the ‘Tall Stories’ company, comes to Bristol fresh from a West End season, and is (obviously) an adaption of the classic book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. I also learnt today that this book is 15 years old. Really?! This is a perfect little show for kids and their grown ups. Perfect in length at 55 minutes, any longer in my experience and my little girl gets twitchy. Enough scariness to make her hug me in places but not so scary that it was too much for her. Sweet and funny, with enough audience participation to keep the children’s interest but not too much that the adults then wish it would stop! We both loved the wonderful interpretation of the party loving snake with his glitter, hip shaking and maracas. After the show, she collapsed into giggles, and when I asked her why she said she kept thinking of the ‘funny man pretending to be the funny snake’. She said her favourite character was the mouse, I felt like the main narrator and eventual Gruffalo stole the show with his comic asides and silly ‘nut map’ dance. We both really enjoyed it, and, as for my grown up little 5 year old who initially was refusing to enjoy it, she clapped, cheered, roared like a Gruffalo and laughed along with the best of them.
The one thing I would say is that the +3 age range is probably about right. Although nothing particularly scary happened, it was noisy, and a few of the younger members of the audience did have a few tears in places. That said, nobody expects a show full of a few hundred under 7’s to be quiet, so it really didn’t matter.
So, did she enjoy it? Yes, we both did. But don’t just take my word for it, here is her own mini review.
‘The Gruffalo’ runs at the Bristol Old Vic until Thursday the 7th, go to the website for more info and tickets.
By Karen Blake