What the Ladybird Heard ★★★★★ Palace Theatre | Jul 15 - Aug 29, 2021


In What the Ladybird Heard Julia Donaldson demonstrates how to talk to children without talking down to them. This is an ingenious way of teaching small people how to connect animals to the noises they make. Aimed principally at three to five-year-olds, the picture-book farmyard set by Bek Palmer looks delightful, even managing to make the cavernous stage of the Palace Theatre seem intimate. We felt we had wandered onto Brookfield Farm in The Archers! All the puppet-like animals were perfect, but we especially loved the dog made from broomsticks and the wobbly-legged foal. Led by Roddy Lynch's Farmer and with Nikita Johal as Lily, the four main performers have just the right touch. Matthew McPherson and James Mateo-Salt came into their own as the robbers; their routines were spot on and particularly amused the slightly older audience members – it has to be said that the very young ones lost a bit of interest during this scene. James, as the not very bright Lanky Len, was a particular favourite. The little ones quickly became enthralled again when all the animals came to life and they happily joined in when necessary. Graham Hubbard directs with an assured touch and real imagination whilst Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw provide the “jolly good tunes.” It is a delight to be sitting in a theatre packed with youngsters full of wonderment as they enjoy what is probably their first taste of stage magic. This is intelligent and sophisticated, yet disarming, children's theatre at its very best.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by David Monteith-Hodge.

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