Julia Donaldson’s books for small children are deservedly popular, in part due to Axel Scheffler’s illustrations. Scamp in association with Watford’s Palace Theatre has just launched a major tour of Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales directed by Sally Cookson, designed by Katie Sykes and with music by Benji Bower – the team behind last year’s Bristol Old Vic’s staging of Treasure Island.
Let your imagination work is the philosophy behind this production, and the young audience at Watford was happy to do just that. There are three performers – Peta Dennis, Joseph Carey and Matthew Hamper – but the stage is also peopled by a miraculous array of everyday items which whirl and twirl themselves into all manner of beasties. All with the aid of a couple of ladders, the occasional puppet (the monkey who’s lost his mum was a particular favourite) and both live and recorded music.
There’s no interval, but the children were completely engrossed by watching the stage and accepting its conventions as one story followed and contrasted with another. None go on for too long – attention span is short at this age – and the actors have engaging personalities, which is important when you take work from one familiar medium to one experienced perhaps rather less often. Scamp, of course, are specialists in theatre for this age range. Tiddler looks set to be another success story.