3-7 November 2015
Reviewed by Angela Paull
This afternoon we went to see The Gruffalo at the Theatre Royal in Windsor. The theatre is situated in the middle of Windsor, under the shadow of Windsor Castle, and there is plentiful parking nearby. We found that the car parks immediately behind the theatre were rather expensive though and parked in the multi-storey for the shopping centre, no more than a 10 minute walk away.
The theatre itself was lovely, with a cosy feel and comfy seats with ample legroom. There is a snacks and drinks kiosk in the foyer and a large area downstairs with a bar and a coffee bar. The show itself ran a little late, starting about 15 minutes after the scheduled 1.30pm start time, so there were lots of parents with slightly fractious pre-schoolers but the staff remained calm, friendly and polite.
The show is based around the incredibly popular Julia Donaldson tale and aimed at children aged 3+ (and their grown-ups). The stage was dotted with trees to represent the Deep Dark Woods and the play portrays the Mouse’s journey to find a nut to eat, whilst avoiding being eaten by Fox, Owl and Snake.
The production has a cast of just three actors so there is a lot of dashing around stage and costume changes (particularly for the actor who play Fox, Owl and Snake!). Due to the necessity for quick costume changes these “predators” are depicted using accessories/clothing rather than full animal costumes. I think my 4 year old struggled slightly to understand that the chap in country attire and an eared hat was playing the fox but as characters they were great fun. The fox had a cockney wide boy quality about him, the owl was a high ranking officer in the Woodland Air Force and the Snake was a maraca wielding, snakeskin jacket wearing, and moustachioed chap from Mexico.
The mouse outwits all these animals who want to eat her by describing, what she believes to be, the mythical Gruffalo. There are some great little songs along the way and an opportunity for the children to join in by growling or being silent according to signals the mouse makes.
She finally encounters The Gruffalo, in a fabulous costume complete with all those qualities the Gruffalo should have – claws, warts, purple prickles – they’re all there. He is a rather lovable looking chap, though he successfully scares the Snake, Owl and Fox as Mouse leads him back through the forest in order to avoid becoming his lunch.
Fans of the book will be pleased to know that the script is true to the original text of the book. All the familiar lines are there so Gruffalo fans should be very satisfied. Added to this there is dialogue to amuse both kids and adults and fun little song and dance routines.
At around an hour long it’s just about the right length for its target audience and it seemed to hold the attention of most of the audience very well – without being too long for the adults.
All in all it was a good, fun production and the three cast members seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids.
Tickets cost £13.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Gruffalo is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until 7 November 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01753 853 888.
Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1PS | 01753 853 888