Reviewed by Sandip Stapleton
We were luckily enough to be invited to go and see Tabby McTat at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. It was performed by the Freckle Productions.
My kids, aged 4 and 7 have been to similar productions before so know what to expect in terms of going to the theatre, but there were lots of very excited kids in the foyer which was lovely to see. As we are Julia Donaldson fans, we were looking forward to seeing this production. Tabby McTat is a book we own and have read many times, but I don’t really think you need to know the story that well to go and view this production. It follows the books version of events well, but it is re-told to the audience by Tabby McTat’s son Samuel Sprat.
The play itself is performed by 4 actors who play all the parts and they interchange which part they are playing, which confused by 4 year old son initially, despite them telling us that that would happen and that we needed to keep an eye on who was wearing what hat, and that a sound would play when a hat was being put on meaning that an actor was about to play a specific, main character. It sounds a little complicated, but they did a great job of explaining it before they started the story. My son picked it up after a few minutes but for a younger child (he is nearly 5 years old) you may need to remind them which character was performing at that time.
They spend the first 10 minutes or so getting the 4 actors on stage, introducing them by their real names, and then them explaining that they would perform to us the story of Tabby McTat.
Then, Samuel Spratt starts to explain that his Dad, Tabby McTat had a friend called Fred who was a busker. This is now starting to sound familiar. It follows the book’s events and there is a lovely rendition of Fred and Tabby’s song you, me and the old guitar.
The show itself is an hour long so there are quite few songs added to the story to pad it out, but they are all sung very well, and flow with the story nicely. The 4 actors harmonise with each other really well.
The stage is very minimalistic with very little in terms of scenery setting, which the 4 actors moved around themselves, but to be honest, for a young audience it was fine as you don’t want to overload them which too much.
My 7-year-old was probably too old for it but she still
enjoyed it. She mostly liked watching the actor in the purple t-shirt as she
enjoyed her energetic movements and way of acting. She found her really funny.
She enjoyed the magician’s act (the conjuror in the book) the best and was
retelling it all on the way home. We all liked learning Tabby McTat and Fred’s
special handshake, I even joined in with that one!
My 4-year-old was fully absorbed in the whole show and was surprised at how quickly the hour went. Well they do say time flies when you are having fun! I would say he is probably target audience age. I’m not sure of the age this is aimed at, but I would say 4-6 would probably be the perfect age.
It’s a great thing to do in the six weeks holidays, and a great opportunity to get the book out and read it again, which is what we did at bedtime!
Tickets cost £13 (booking fees may apply).
Tabby McTat is at the the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham from 14-15 August 2019, 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