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The Tiger Who Came to Tea (tour - Norwich Playhouse)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Putting a much-loved picture story-book for the under-fives on stage is a tricky business. It's an age-group for which what is seen is often more important than what is heard. Of course, you can't teach David Wood anything new about making words and pictures three-dimensional, as the current tour of Judith Kerr's story of The Tiger Who Came to Tea amply demonstrates.

Susie Caulcutt is the designer and she's created something which echoes Kerr's illustrations, adds in some very good touches (Scott Penrose's fridge is particularly effective) and costumes which define their wearers. The tiger sports one of the best "skins" which I've seen for a long time and Matthew Dudley summons up a correctly feline as well as anthropomorphic repertoire of animal stalks and courtly gestures.

Dudley also doubles the slightly distracted father of of Abigail Lumb's smart little Sophie and the visiting milkman and postman. Jenanne Redman is the wife and mother who keeps her family – well, she tries to – on an even keel. The opening number "A story is a book" is a gentle way of ensuring that children grasp that there's more than one way to tell a tale.

Children notoriously have a very short attention span and are easily distracted, even in a darkened auditorium. That throughout the youngsters were riveted by the action, thoroughly enjoyed the tiger's greed, accepted the mime convention of the impromptu car trip to a café (the tiger having eaten the cupboard bare) by the hungry family and cheerfully stayed watching until the end is probably the best recommendation a children's show could have.


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