The Gruffalo’s Child ★★★★ Garrick Theatre | Dec 1, 2023 - Jan 7, 2024

Julia Donaldson's 2004 book, The Gruffalo's Child, follows up on her wildly successful tale for toddlers, The Gruffalo. Once again a cunning mouse escapes his predators through a clever ruse, and in this story the Gruffalo's child learns to appreciate the safety and security of home. It is no small feat to get and hold the attention the under seven set, but in this theatrical adaptation the Tall Stories company manages to do just that. The story is nicely paced and the action is varied enough to hold the children's interest. There are songs and participation moments that keep the audience engaged in the quest of the disobedient younger Gruffalo who ventures into the deep, dark woods. And while the script uses lots of repetition to reinforce the story, the actors manage to avoid the ultimate faux pas of talking down to their audience. The cast appear to be enjoying themselves and the youngsters respond in kind. The presentations of the Snake, the Owl and the Fox are all suitably silly and the Gruffalo himself is totally charming. It is rare to go to the theatre and to have the audience know the play as well as the actors do, but here that often seems to be the case. The young audience thoroughly enjoyed chiming in on the fearful description of the Big Bad Mouse, and they absolutely delighted in seeing their picturebook favourites come to life. The Gruffalo's Child offers a lovely adaptation of Julia Donaldson's story and a perfect introduction to the wonders of theatre.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Charles Flint

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