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Emily Brown and the Thing (Tour - Salford)

Kristy Stott finds a half term treat, ideal for families and fans of the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Emily Brown and the Thing

Tall Stories never fail to disappoint with their imaginative and lively interpretations of modern and well loved children's stories. Their latest UK tour Emily Brown and The Thing, written by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton, is loads of fun for younger children and a light hearted treat for parents too.

The heroine of the story, Emily Brown and her favourite toy, Stanley, hear something crying outside their bedroom window. It is The Thing and he just can't get to sleep and so before Emily can settle down for the night she has to help The Thing.

Emily and her trusty rabbit Stanley set out on colourful and incredible adventures into the scary wood, the whirling wastes and beyond to find The Thing's cuddly, his milky bedtime drink and his cough medicine...but will it all be enough for him to sleep soundly? And will anyone ever get to sleep?

The whole story centres around children and bedtime- it's a humorous topic to explore as well as being a bone of contention for most parents. Director Olivia Jacobs opens the show with short sound bites from children about sleeping and then closes the show with more audio about dreaming.

This special touch creates a pleasing context for the story, as I looked around I could see parents nodding and children giggling along with the voices.

The cast of three are all equally strong - Anna Wheatley's pyjama clad Emily Brown is brave and quirky- she is animated and petite, her feet turned in and her voice all childlike, nasally and expressive, it's easy to forget that you are watching an adult play a child.

Sam Donovan plays a charming Liverpudlian Stanley the rabbit which contrasts perfectly with Chris Gunter's Thing, which he delivers with a hint of Kenneth Williams.

Simple puppets designed by Yvonne Stone are used to perform some of the action - they appeal to the younger members of the audience and also serve as a useful way of staging the trickier aspects of the story on stage.

Emily Brown and The Thing is a good example of quality family theatre and it is suitable for children age three and upwards.

By incorporating repetitive music, humour and physical theatre and running at just under an hour, it succeeds in keeping the little ones entertained for its duration.

Emily Brown and the Thing is at the Lowry until 2 November.