Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood… say these words to any parent of a young child and I guarantee they’ll continue the story for you! This opening line is one most parents will have read multiple times since The Gruffalo was first published in 1999. The story of a little mouse and a big monster is still just as popular over 20 years later. I think I’ve read it hundreds of times since first becoming a parent 9 years ago, it’s still a firm favourite with my youngest who is five years old.
When I discovered that the stage adaptation of The Gruffalo by Tall Stories was playing at the Lowry Theatre in Salford I knew we had to go. Tall Stories is a registered charity, who tour the world bringing stories wonderfully to life on the stage. They first performed The Gruffalo in 2001, it’s a testament to how fantastic they are that this show is still touring 21 years later. We were fortunate enough to see another Tall Stories adaptation, The Gruffalos Child, in 2019, we absolutely loved that show so had high expectations for this one.
As we entered the theatre we were surrounded by many other families eagerly awaiting for the performance to begin. Tall Stories have a recommended age guide of 3+ for this show but there were definitely children younger than that in the audience.
I would imagine for many members of the audience this will have been their first experience of live theatre, I’m sure they will be hooked after this show! It was joyful to hear the children laughing at the characters’ antics and joining in with the parts of the story they all knew off by heart. It’s an ideal show to introduce children to the magic of the theatre, the actors really embody the characters, the music is upbeat and entertaining and the fact that you are encouraged to be part of the show is perfect for such a young audience. With a running time of just under an hour its not too long for fidgety little ones and if they’re anything like my daughter they’ll be so engrossed in the show the time will fly by!
As we waited for the show to begin my daughter and I took in the on stage set, a collection of trees creating the deep dark wood. My daughter was very excited to spot the log pile, home of Snake! Then when the show began the three actors all came on stage, with clever costume changes and impressive voice work they covered all the characters from the book. They were all superb, even the tall one at the back! Alastair Chisholm did a great job of switching between all three predators, my daughters favourite character he played was Fox. Aimee Louise Bevan brought Mouse to life and encouraged the children to be part of the performance. Aaron Dart added lots of laughs to the show, narrating the story before becoming The Gruffalo at the end.
The three performers brought the book to life, with action, music and audience participation making this a truly wonderful show. I’d highly recommend this show to anyone with a child under 7, whether they’ve read the book or not. Although I doubt there’s anyone with a child under 7 who hasn’t read the book!
Tickets cost from £18 plus £3 transaction fee.
The Gruffalo is at the Lowry from 30th July to 21st August, for more information or to book tickets visit https://thelowry.com/whats-on/the-gruffalo/ or call the box office on 0343 208 6000
The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ