The art of a good children’s show is to get the level of the performance right. Too clever and the children are lost, too simple and the children are bored or, as with this production, get it right and everyone stays engaged and happy right through to the very end.
Created by Steven Lee and based on the children’s song and picture book of the same name, “There was an Old Lady” is a very clever mixture of live acting, puppetry, shadow theatre, songs and a great deal of audience participation and, at around 75 minutes with no interval, the perfect length to hold the attention of even the liveliest child.
The People’s Theatre Company have a cleverly designed and colourful set which was half the old lady’s house and half a science laboratory. The story begins to unfold with a sing-along to get the audience really warmed up and then, as one would expect at the very beginning, the old lady swallowing the fly.
As soon as she does this, the action cleverly switches to the science lab where, using some very ingenious props, a lot is explained about the human digestive system. The show is aimed at Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 pupils and, as well as being very entertaining, it is also educational. The PTC website also contains a 21 page downloadable booklet, so that the children can continue the fun when they get home.
As the story progresses to the larger animals that the old lady ingests, shadow puppetry is used with the old lady “popping outside” only to appear in shadow on a large screen with the next creature. Each time she returns to the stage her stomach has increased in size until, towards the end, she is quite enormous.
“There was an Old Lady” is more educational that PTCs previous productions, How the Koala, Learned to Hug, The Elephant Bridesmaid and the delightfully titled, Witch’s Bogey but, just like it’s predecessors this production is fast, slick, colourful, thoroughly entertaining and, above all, brilliant fun.