There was an atmosphere of babbling tiny voices, coupled with the calming tones of parents trying to dampen down a growing sense of excitement, as the audience awaited the arrival of the cast of Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales.
The Bristol Old Vic’s main house was near to capacity as Maryam Grace, Alex Tosh and Anna Larkin entered wearing brimmed hats, colourful jackets and carrying an assortment of props. With two step ladders joined by a plank, various boxes, and a table, the cast brought to life Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picturebook Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales. Using a mixture of song, simple dialogue, mime, choreographed movement and physical theatre the trio told the story of Tiddler the fish who was always late, the Monkey who had lost his mummy, The Smartest Giant in Town, and A Squash and a Squeeze.
The Freckle production of Scamp Theatre’s drama was driven by musical director Brian Hargreaves and Georgia Green with Chris Pirie as puppetry and associate director. His use of everyday objects such as gloves and dusters must have kept costs down but also worked as a joke which the audience were in on from the first appearance of the monkey portrayed by some rope.
There was some fidgeting in the ranks of the pre-school audience although this seemed to have more to do with the fascination of the tip-up seats. And there’s a story in itself: pre-school and primary school children find the experience of a visit to the theatre – the seating, the steps, the toilets and watching other children – almost as important as the drama.
Inventive, funny and at times purely silly, the stories engaged the audience in a setting that could have been too large for this small-scale production but with microphones to help projection and huge energy the hour-long show kept the concentration of hundreds of tiddlers (and their parents).
This review was originally published on HarryMottram.co.uk