Reviewed by Rosemary Knight
My grandchildren have always loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books and whenever the stories are turned into a live performance, we try our best go and to see it live. We were extremely excited to watch Tabby McTat as my grandson had been asking to see the show. He had seen the posters advertising the performance at The Lowry theatre in Salford, Manchester and was adamant that he really wanted to go and view this production. My grandchildren are regular visitors to The Lowry and are always delighted at the prospect of seeing another new performance. On arrival the foyer was full of excited children, obviously very enthusiastic at the idea of watching the show.
I hadn’t personally read Tabby McTat but my grandson knew the story well from school. He was looking forward to seeing the show and we arrived at The Lowry in good time and found our seats easily. Visiting The Lowry is always a delightful experience as the staff are so helpful and welcoming and the theatre itself is modern, spacious and comfortable. We attended the 11am show so were up bright and early with a packed lunch in tow.
Freckle Productions’ adaptation of the book took place in the Lyric theatre at The Lowry and was performed by four actors (Luke Rees-Oliviere, Paul Hilliar, Anneka Gouldbourne and Rhian Mclean), who swapped and changed into different characters (both human and feline) simply by changing hats and at the sound of a bell. This was explained clearly at the beginning of the performance to the children, so they were aware of what to expect. The actors spent time interacting with the children, making a point of coming into the audience and shaking hands and generally getting to know the youngsters and making them feel at ease.
The story begins with Samual Sprat, explaining that his dad, Tabby McTat, was a busker’s cat, with a miaow that was loud and strong and continues to tell the tale of Tabby McTat’s adventures. My grandson informed me that the show stays very true to the book and all the children in the audience seemed very familiar with the story and really enjoyed the cats’ antics. There is lots of singing and music along the way and even a bit of magic which just adds to the charm.
The stage is quite minimalistic and the actors change all the scenery and props themselves, which encourages the young audience to use their imaginations more.
This is a charming, heart-warming production which is aimed at a young audience. My grandson is age five and found it thoroughly enjoyable. At just one hour long, the show is the perfect length time so that little ones do not get restless, not that there as much chance of the that as the audience found this performance so entertaining.
Tickets cost £16.50 (booking fees may apply).
Tabby McTat is at The Lowry in Manchester from 7-8 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000