4-5 April 2015
Reviewed by Philippa Plater
We saw Ben and Holly Live on Saturday afternoon at The Derngate in Northampton. The atrium entrance of the Royal & Derngate is so lovely and bright and I always arrive early and as usual all of the staff were lovely. As a family with two girls aged 8 and 4 we have had our fair share of Ben and Holly over the years and I must admit to enjoying the show, in particular the relationship between The Wise Old Elf and Nanny Plum. It’s one of those programmes that is able entertain the littlies but have very subtle lines for the grown-ups too.
The opening scene is Ben & Holly playing in the long grass, the garish set stays true to the cartoon and the sound effects (of the magic wand and Ben’s I’m an Elf Horn) are the same as the show and give the legitimacy needed. However the opening just lacks a bit of oomph! It does get better when there is some audience participation and the second half even better with songs for the children to learn with actions and being able to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to King Thistle was a highlight for the little ones. The costumes were true to the characters and covered the whole face of the actor with just their chins poking out and once you got used to the weird receding chin they worked well. The voices however don’t cut it, The Wise Old Elf and King Thistle were very good, Nanny Plum’s sarcastic dry voice that absolutely makes the character was somehow replaced by a Hull or maybe Manchester accent and I’m not sure where Ben’s voice (or boobs!!) came from. Having said that neither of my girls seemed to mind the voices, especially the littlest one who was completely enthralled. Although the biggest daughter did point out the boobs!!!
The story is a miss-mash of different episodes so the children know what to expect and don’t have to follow a story as such. There are the classic turning Ben into a frog, and tidying Gaston the Ladybird’s cave and as soon as Nanny Plum started mixing medicine in the cauldron I nudged the eldest and guessed they’d be a ‘Jelly Flood!’…and wasn’t disappointed!
If this is your first visit to the theatre with your little darlings, this is the perfect show for him or her to cut her teeth. It is very short (2 half hours with a 15 minute interval), has a set that is eye catching and does not try a complicated story. It’s not the best kids’ show I’ve ever seen but the pre-schoolers that made up the audience all looked completely captivated by the whole show. And if my 4 year old could write I’m sure her review would be much more positive than mine.
Ben & Holly Live is currently on tour around the UK. For more information, venues or to book tickets visit www.benandhollylive.com.
For shows at the Royal & Derngate visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811