Review of The Reluctant Dragon at Royal & Derngate, Northampton
by Becki Cockcroft, On Stage Northants
The actors effortlessly took on various characters without much in the way of costume. Taking their cues from traditional storytelling, we were treated to grand stories of the scary dragons of old – but our hero here isn’t the Knight in Shining Armor.
With the aid of some beautiful puppetry, Munchkins and Monsters began telling us the tale of The Reluctant Dragon (based on the short story by Kenneth Grahame) – far from the fire-breathing monsters that we’ve all read stories of before, the softly spoken Neek (Dale Forder) just wants to live a quiet life in his cave.
The play uses a mix of inventive techniques to bring the story to life – shadow puppetry, physical movement (like the very well executed sword fight), and simple but imaginatively used props. The kids loved the actors coming out into the audience – your reviewer even got trampled on by some escaped sheep!
While this is a show predominately aimed at kids, Forder and Richardson have written the show conscious that their audience will always have a “grown-up” contingent – jokes about affordable housing will go over the little ones’ heads but certainly raised a chuckle from the adults.
It was a lovely touch that the cast gave the audience the chance to have photos taken with themselves and the puppets after the show too.
A wonderful family show, and a great introduction to theatre for children. ☆☆☆☆
Review of Back in Time for Breakfast and Wind in the Willows at The Ferrers, Rushden
- by Lindsey Atkins - Expressive Arts Curriculum Leader
This show was magical, it completely captivated my children in the magical journey of the character whilst also being full of educational content. The puppets, language and set were pitched completely right for the age group it is aimed at. A lovely story which I wish I could have as a book. - Back in Time for Breakfast
A thoughtful, funny, child friendly adaptation of this classic story. Pitched at the perfect level for its audiences whilst there being plenty of subtle adult humour for the parents. Well worth a watch - Wind in the Willows
Review of Back In Time For Breakfast at The Umbrella Fair 2016, Northampton - by Kevin Evans
This little piece has been lovingly created to encapture perhaps everything required of a children's entertainment show. Its brings gurning faces, silly dancing, jolly music, bright colours and a nice collection of simple, but very effective puppets. Providing the adults who have accompanied the children to the show with entertainment is a surprising amount of intelligent storytelling of an environmental (but never ever preaching) nature.
It provides the perfect balance with silly fun from those like Percy the Penguin, and onto actually quite powerful imagery of the restoration of the ocean, via the most simple of things an umbrella as a jellyfish. It all allows the children to be happily taken in by their waving of the handouts and the adults to have perhaps a few more contemplative moments.
There are several really great scenes during the show, a couple of favourites being the reconstruction of the ship with all its dancing and nicely constructed rountine, and then the fabulous nit-picking monkey who happily travails the crowd to the delight of the children and some of the adults. The audience interaction pieces are perhaps the best way to gauge a success of a show like this, and pretty much most of them were loving it and eager to be the one to have the chance of tossing the old sock at the big cat (you had to be there).
As childrens show, full of highly expressive faces and lively motion, making everything deliberately bigger and bolder than it needs to be to keep those distracted eyes on them.
Performance reviewed: Sunday 21st August, 2016 at the Umbrella Fair 2016, Northampton. performers Dale Forder and Laura Richardson do everything that you would want from a likeable pairing of performers coupled with an apparently simple tale full of hidden depths provides a great little show, which when performed it a more accommodating location is absolutely sure to keep the kids thrilled. Couple that with the fact you can then get your picture taken with Percy the Penguin at the end, makes this a sure fire