I have to admit that until Wednesday, my boys had not read Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers. However, we do own Lost and Found which features the same boy and penguin. When we were offered to review the show by Gaga Theatre Company we headed to the library to find out what the book was about. Essentially it is about a penguin wanting to fly. It is a nice story but I was apprehensive as to how they would fill 40 minutes.
The show is recommended for babies to 5, and I would say that the majority of the audience (except for parents/grandparents) were between 2 and 4. We watched the show at Henley Regal Playhouse which meant that it was a reasonably small venue which I believed helped with the atmosphere.
We were greeted on arrival by front of house and shown to our seats. Allocation was on a first come first serve basis. The show started with the boy and penguin walking down the aisle shouting who they were and pointing at the screen. My concerns about it being to hard for the children to understand were dismissed as the boys happily accepted that these actors were indeed the boy and penguin on the screen.
The show was engaging and interactive. The first half of the show focuses on the friendship between the boy and penguin. Here we had a parachute thrown over us and middle man was excited when the penguin passed him a string telephone to use. The last 20 minutes focuses on the actual story. In the picture below the characters are acting out that they have lost each other and middle man said they are upset.
It was lovely looking around the audience and seeing so many little people quite literally on the edge of (and sometimes off) their seats with excitement. They were totally engaged in the story. There was no interval to distract them and the 40 minutes was just the right amount of time for them to concentrate for. If you have the chance to see the show, I would highly recommend it whether you are fans of the book or not. It is very cleverly done and I liked it just as much as my 2 and 4 year olds. The show is currently on tour and will soon be showing at Hammersmith, East Finchley, Richmond and Chealsea, so if you live nearby it really is worth a visit. I will certainly be looking out for other productions by the company to take my boys to.
We were given complemantary tickets for the purpose of the review but the opinions here are my own.