28-30 October 2014
Reviewed by Diane Wilkinson
with Kim (age 8)
I took my 8-year old daughter to see Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play at Northern Stage in Newcastle upon Tyne on Wednesday 28th October 2104. She has been a big fan of the books by Lauren Child for about 5 years so was thrilled to help me review this stage production!
The theatre itself is tucked away on the campus of Newcastle University and has no parking of its own but I was lucky enough to find a space on a nearby street with a 2 hour limit which was just what we needed as the play itself lasted about an hour and half including interval. The staff were pleasant and efficient without being pushy with the associated merchandise for sale. The theatre often hosts productions specifically for young children and the staff, clearly used to them, welcomed the young audience with smiles.
The production is based around a few different Charlie and Lola stories, brought together skilfully into a series of scenes which flowed into one another to tell a tale based around the characters’ experiences of the seasons. Several themes are explored within the production, such as dealing with change, feelings of disappointment, coping with responsibility and what it means to be friends. This is all done in a very child-friendly way, with dialogue that is easily understood by young children, keeping the audience engaged as familiar characters and music take us through Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer in the world of Charlie and Lola and their friends.
The young audience (and their grown-ups) were delighted by the clever puppeteers who manipulated the characters, props and scenery, making scene changes part of the entertainment too. The combination of puppetry, animation, props, lighting and special effects served to create a delightful piece of children’s theatre. Particularly engaging was the interaction invited by paper leaves, foam “snow” and bubbles being scattered over the audience at relevant points during the story. If they have never been to the theatre before, this is a perfect introduction to theatre and puppetry for under 8s.
When the play was over I asked my daughter which part she had enjoyed the most, and after thinking for a moment said “All of it!” And what better recommendation than that? Suitable for both boys and girls, and for children from three to ten, whether already familiar with Charlie and Lola or not, this lovely production is highly recommended. Five out of five!
Tickets cost from £9.50 to £12.50.
Charlie and Lola’s Extremely New Play is at the Northern Stage in Newcastle until 30 November 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0191 230 5151.
Northern Stage, Barras Bridge,Newcastle Upon Tyne,Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RH