Reviewed by Layla Wilde
A hilarious show not to be missed! Hop on down to Nottingham Theatre Royal for the perfect five star fun family ending to a dreary half-term. Tickets are still available for this weekend.
If you have a child under the age of 10, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Oi! series of incredibly popular picture books by Kes Gray and Jim Field. Featuring Frog, Dog and Cat, The fifth title – Oi Puppies! – has recently been released and continues the story of these beloved characters.
As delightful in rhyme as illustrations, the plot and procedures of the animals’ world are really quite simple, albeit whacky: every creature has an assigned place to sit. For example, lizards sit on wizards, bees sit on keys, gnus sit on canoes… For some creatures the place to be sat is not the most comfortable and, unfortunately for Cat, Frog doesn’t want to sit on a log and begins to challenge the status quo, exasperating the sourpuss and unravelling the fundamental truths of this zany universe. By the time you get to book four – Oi Duck-Billed-Platypus! – and meeting new characters, the rhyming rules begin to get tricky! I challenge you to name a person or object for said platypus to sit on!
Our household are huge fans of these books, so we were incredibly excited to see how the assorted animals would be brought to life on stage. Our six-year-old daughter packed the books for the drive to the theatre and off we set.
This boisterous musical adaption is a giddy new tale set at Sittingbottom School, where the mayhem of the original stories are blended into original madcap acts. All the favourites are present and correct: cranky Cat is once again in-charge, officiously giving guidelines at the blackboard; Frog is a nervous new student; and dog is still dog, delighted to be along for the ride and being told how it is. The audience participation and engagement throughout was superb, the children (and grown-ups) loved shouting back the rhyme to the energetic cast and some things flew off stage our way too! The exuberant mixture of costumes and puppetry are faithful to the illustrations and are blended perfectly with the animated facial expressions and body language of the actors. We loved the varied musical interludes which varied greatly in style from ballads to folk to rap. Prepare for your little ones to be singing the tunes for hours after.
New and old deliriously mixed to great effect. We left the theatre giddy, our expectations exceeded and our love for Gray & Field’s artistry flawlessly complemented by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes’s adaptation.
A warm welcome awaits you at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham; this family-friendly venue in the heart of the city, with reasonably priced car parking and tram access a few yards from the grand building, is perfect for those wishing to enjoy the wonder of theatre with little ones. Oi Frog & Friends! is a delight for young and old alike and would also be the perfect introduction to theatre for pre-schoolers due to its 55 minute running time.
If budgerigars sat on stars, I’d need five of them!
Tickets cost from £11.50 to £13.50 (booking fees may apply).
Oi Frog & Friends is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 21-23 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND