9 April 2014
Reviewed by Alissa McDonald
What is the enduring appeal of a whispering, small, friendly yellow/orange bear, a squeaking dog and a panda? Put the famous trio together – Sooty, Sweep and Soo – with their human friend, carer and frequent stooge, mixed together with jokes, songs and a dollop of magic for good measure and you have made many a small child (and their parents) very happy. For around sixty years, Sooty and his friends – an idea created by Harry Corbett (OBE) – have entertained generations.
The Sooty Show, based around Sooty’s 5th birthday celebrations, was lively, energetic and at its centre was audience participation. From the off, we were invited to help Richard Cadell find Sooty, and my two (aged 6 and 4) were hooked. Enthusiastically joining in with the calling out, the songs and dancing (and that wasn’t just me!), we were treated to a show that sped along making full use of slapstick-style humour.
The relationship between Richard and the puppets seems very real, which draws the audience in. The traditional gags and visual humour were peppered with some clever, modern touches. I certainly wasn’t expecting an excerpt of Gangnam Style to be in the Sooty Show! Sweep being lifted up by an escaping balloon actually led to my four year old falling off his seat with laughter. Whilst my six year old, who has a love of magic, was amazed when Sooty disappeared, and he wasn’t under the table…
We went to see The Sooty Show at The Grove Theatre in Dunstable which is a modern and well-designed theatre, with good facilities for people with disabilities. We sat on the second row to the back of the stalls and had an excellent view of the stage. All the staff were professional, helpful and polite – even going the extra mile to find a spoon when my daughter dropped hers on the floor of the foyer, so she could eat her ice-cream. There is plenty of space to park as the theatre has its own pay-and-display car park, and whilst we did not make use of the toilet facilities on this occasion, they have always been clean and pleasant on previous visits.
The Sooty Show was a dynamic show that brought back memories and created new ones. If you have children between two and eight, I would highly recommend booking when it comes to your area. One small gripe: as is the norm now, it seems, at children’s shows, there is merchandise for sale before and after the performance. There were souvenir programmes reasonably priced at £2.50, DVDs at £7, but is there really a need in your family’s life for a giant flashing magic wand (£4)? The magic of Sooty should be enough!
A final word from two little reviewers:
I liked the bit when Butch sang a rude, silly version of Happy Birthday to Sooty and Sooty sprayed Butch with his water pistol! (Reviewer, aged 6)
There were lots of funny jokes and I laughed and laughed, like Sooty stretching the balloon with Richard and it pinged at him. (Reviewer, aged 4)
The Sooty Show is on tour around the UK until 16 November 2014, for more information and tour dates visit www.thesootyshow.com.
Grove Theatre, Grove Park, Court Drive, Dunstable, LU5 4GP | Box Office 01582 602080