Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison
I bet most parents of young children will recognise this opening sentence, The Gruffalo said no Gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood… Of course it’s from Julia Donaldson’s much loved story The Gruffalo’s Child. Set after The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child story tells us what happens when the Gruffalo’s child decides to go into the deep dark wood looking for the big bad mouse. This Christmas fans of The Gruffalo’s Child are in for a treat as Tall Stories adaptation of The Gruffalo’s Child has come to The Lowry in Salford, Manchester.
On Saturday morning, my nearly 3-year-old daughter and I headed into Salford Quays to visit The Lowry and watch the show. It was a bit chaotic parking due to all the other festive activities going on in The Lowry outlet mall so I would recommend leaving yourself extra time when you visit. Once we had finally managed to park, we headed over to the theatre. In the foyer, my little girl was mesmerised by the giant Christmas tree and it took me a few minutes just to drag her away before we went to take our seats. As this is a show aimed at children there were lots of booster seats available at the entrance to the auditorium to help the little people see the stage. We took our seats and waited for the show to begin.
There were just three actors on stage for this performance, Althea Burey as the Gruffalo’s Child, Dominic Gee-Burch as the Gruffalo and the predators and Emily Essery playing the mouse as well as narrating the story. All three actors were brilliant, Althea Burey captured the excitement, boldness and stubbornness of the Gruffalo’s Child wonderfully. She made me smile a lot during the performance. Dominic Gee-Burch was very versatile in his numerous roles, bringing definition to each individual character and Emily Essery carried the story along whilst engaging the imagination of this young audience. The official age guidance according to the Tall Stories website is 3-103 but my two-year-old was far from the youngest child there, in fact right next to us was a family with a baby and another baby on the row in front.
The show followed the original story from the book with lots of catchy songs expanding upon the tale. All the children seemed to enjoy the songs and if they’re anything like me I can guarantee the adults in the audience went away singing the songs in their heads! Performances like this are the perfect introduction to the theatre for young children, at just under an hour long they’re short enough to keep most children’s attention and as at least 50% of the audience are under 8 you can be sure it isn’t just your child loudly asking questions during the show.
We both really enjoyed this play, my daughter was sat transfixed for most of the show and she really liked joining in with the clapping and audience interaction. This is such a wonderful adaptation that it’s also entertaining for the adults, I enjoyed watching it just as much as my daughter and there’s nothing quite like watching a young child react to live theatre. It’s truly magical. With shows running right through December and into January it’s a perfect festive treat for the whole family to enjoy.
Tickets cost from £14 (booking fees may apply).
The Gruffalo’s Child is at The Lowry in Manchester from 7-12 December 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