Well shiver me timbers, Charlie Cook’s taking us on a journey of the imagination featuring pirates, knights and even a book-eating crocodile, in this charming musical version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.
Charlie lives with his mum and sister Izzy (a character who doesn’t feature on the page) and must try to convince his sister, who’d rather watch TV, of the joys of reading. Fortunately, the shelves are stacked with enticing options, from Goldilocks and the Three Bears to Joust Joking.
As envisioned by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane, who have form with Donaldson adaptations, the stage incarnation retains the book’s emphasis on the power of reading to transport young minds to different worlds. The furniture of Ellie Mills’ cartoonish set – which looks straight out of the book, colourful armchair and all – comes to life with frogs, fish, owls and aliens.
The structure is inherently episodic as we jump from story to story, which does become slightly repetitive. But Jungr’s lively music keeps the energy up and is skillfully delivered by the three-strong cast of Pierre Hanson-Johnson, Georgie Samuels and Freya Stephenson.
For those looking for an alternative Christmas outing for young children (the age guide is 3 to 8), this should fit the bill perfectly. And as ever with the Little Angel, real thought has gone into the accompanying front-of-house activities, where young audience members can engage in some crafts or curl up with a book in Charlie Cook’s famous chair.