Review by Flossie Waite
Presented by Tall Stories in association with Kenny Wax Ltd
8th December 2015 – 3rd January 2016
For ages 3+
Remember the critics who were taken in by One Man, Two Guv’nors staged patter, believing that all the ad-libbing was live and unique to their performance? Well, Room on the Broom may be the children’s theatre equivalent. Puppeteering both a frog and a dog, David Garrud momentarily muddled up their voices. The performers corpsed, the audience laughed – it was an unscripted, unexpected highlight in a slick production. A quick look at previous reviews, however, reveals that it’s all happened before, and been recovered in the same manner (“it seems the dog has a frog in his throat!”) Even in the ‘impromptu’ moments, Tall Stories’ Room on the Broom is polished and predictable.
Tall Stories have been doing great business adapting Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picturebooks for the stage – previous shows include The Gruffalo, and The Snail in the Whale. The hugely popular author/ illustrator duo draws a huge crowd, and the audience at artsdepot enjoyed the story of a hospitable witch, her rational cat, and an overcrowded broom.
An audience of children is often noisy, and performers in children’s theatre have perfected the art of just getting on with it, despite the shrieks and shouts. Still, with Room on the Broom, you get the feeling that the play would be happening whether or not the audience were there. It begins in medias res – entering the auditorium, the performers are already chatting away before imperceptibly slipping into the play itself. From this start, the buzz of chatter from children never quietens. The magical hush that descends over the beginning of the best children’s productions is lost. The action on stage feels separate and distant; is this experience so different from watching TV?
Room on the Broom slips down easy, and families who love the books will like seeing them brought to life on stage. But if theatre is an exchange between actors and audience, Room on the Broom is at the least demanding end of the spectrum.
Images by Darren Bell
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