Reviewed by Louise Totton
Although only 15 miles from where I live, I had never visited the Victoria Theatre in Halifax before. But when we saw they were host to The Gruffalo, we knew it was time to pay a visit. My four year old daughter and her five year old friend, both dressed up to the nines in their Gruffalo costumes, were really excited when the day finally arrived. I too was excited, but also a little concerned that the adaptation would not live up to my daughter’s favourite Julia Donaldson book. After all, how could a book that can be read in less than 5 minutes be successfully made into an hour long stage show?
Not knowing Halifax at all well, we parked at one of the first car parks we could find, at the Eureka museum. We thought £3 for 4 hours was very reasonable, and in the event it was only a couple of minutes walk to the theatre.
The theatre itself was staffed with really friendly and helpful staff who greeted us on arrival and directed us upstairs where the kids could do some (free) Gruffalo themed colouring and drawing, as well as having the option to have their faces painted. The kids were all able to run around a bit, and we didn’t actually have to go down auditorium until just before the show started; a real positive if, like me, you’re used to having to keep the kids still and entertained for 20 minutes whilst you wait for the show to start.
We were sat in the stalls, which I believe have recently been refurbished. It shows – the seats were spacious and comfortable, and we had a wonderful view of the stage.
The children were entranced from the moment the show started. And my concerns about how successful the adaptation could be quickly vanished. There were only three performers on stage for the full duration, and they managed to portray all of the characters with humour and individuality. As I looked around the theatre, all of the children were either stood up or perched on the edge of their seats. The show was funny, had some fantastic dace elements and the performers really encouraged the audience to participate in the show.
From start to finish, the whole audience, adults and kids alike, were engaged and clearly thoroughly enjoying the afternoon. An hour was probably about right – at no point did the show feel like it was dragging and the pace was just right.
I was totally impressed, but both the superb show and the Victoria Theatre too. The theatre was comfortable, clean and the staff fantastic, and the show itself excellent.
A must for all Gruffalo fans.
The Grufflo is currently touring the UK , for more details visit www.gruffalolive.com.