For those who haven’t repeatedly read the book aloud at bedtimes, the premise of the show is very simple: just as Sophie sits down to tea with her mum, a tiger hungry for sandwiches, cakes and strawberry milkshake (NOT little girls, fortunately) pops in to join them. And that’s that.
Not much narrative to go on for a one hour performance, you might think, but therein lies the key to this show’s success. For the beauty of this production is that it understands its young audience and the scope of their imaginations completely, as it meanders gently through the tale, revelling in the sheer uncomplicatedness of it all.
The cast sing sweetly and dance cleanly around a set that is reminiscent of a watercolour picture book. As well as playing well realised characters, they are given the job of leading the audience through panto-esque participation, songs and dance routines, all whilst avoiding the common trap of being annoying or patronising.
Intentionally, there isn’t a great deal here for the adults in the audience, but the grins and shouts from their little ones should be enough for most to go on. My young companion Harrison was certainly not alone in loving the parts when the Tiger was onstage, particularly the moments when he “burped after he drank the Daddy’s beer” and “magicked the sandwiches off the plate”.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea is delightful and funny. For young children, it's a roaring success of a show.
- Sara Cocker