11 February 2017
Reviewed by Jenny Bray
Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre is situated near the Market Hall multi storey car park, which is a pay and display car park. It cost me £1.80 for 2 hours parking on a Saturday day. The theatre itself is a short walk from the car park, around the corner and down one road. It is quite easy to spot as it has a large ‘theatre’ sign on the side of the building. The box office is on the right hand side and has its own entrance, although you can find it from the other entrance too. The staff and ushers are very friendly and welcoming. There is a bar and also a kiosk that sells sweets, drinks and ice creams. They also provide a free coat rack by the kiosk.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a show specifically aimed at 3 to 7 year olds. It is performed by a travelling production company called Blunderbus and is one of their new shows. I took my 4 and 6 year olds along. The audience was full of young children, mainly around the younger end of the recommended age range.
Upon entering the auditorium, the stage was set up as a toy store with various toys on shelves as well as a bed on one side of the stage. It was very atmospheric with smoke swirling around the stage and the stalls. The characters were also walking around talking to people. We found out later that the names of some of the people they’d spoken to would be incorporated at various points of the show, when getting the audience to participate!
Mr Zacoor runs Mr Zacoor’s Toy Shop, which is the setting for the whole show. It starts with him saying that he’s searching for an apprentice to teach his magic to as an assistant magician. Charlie Hubble is a young boy who really wants to be the greatest magician in the world. He goes to the shop to buy the ‘Big Book of Magic’ but is told that it isn’t for sale. Dejected, he nearly leaves and gives up but turns around and discusses it with Mr Zacoor. Mr Zacoor decides to set him three tasks to see whether he is worthy of becoming his apprentice. He communicates these with the audience in an ingenious way so that Charlie isn’t aware of what’s happening but the audience are. During the tasks, Charlie is under strict instruction not to go near the magic book. Mr Zacoor makes this a much harder instruction than you’d think! There are various magic potions and powders involved.
There were only 2 actors performing the whole show. They were accompanied by a few puppets at different points. However, because of the audience interaction and use of puppets it felt much more engaging that it sounds. The puppets included a cat, a parrot who likes to blow raspberries and a small boy. Some of the set also comes to life at various points. There were also a few songs thrown into the mix. At times the whole audience were asked to stand up and join in with things.
The show lasted 1 hour, which was a great length for the ages of the audience. Having said that, both my children asked if there would be more. I think it was partly due to how much they’d enjoyed it as much as it being a shorter show than some I’ve taken them to. The time went by very quickly as the whole show was so engaging, interactive and funny. Although the show was aimed at a younger audience, who were definitely enjoying it, there were also snippets aimed at the adults to keep parents, carers etc. entertained and engaged.
The only small negative I would say would be that the amount of smoke used throughout the show was a little too much. It often swirled throughout the stalls, where we were sat, and I could feel it catching slightly in my throat.
After it had ended both cast members stood out in the auditorium saying goodbye to everyone. They also allowed you to take photos with them if you wanted to. (My 4 year old had wanted to but chickened out once we actually got close to them!)
I rate it 5/5 for a show aimed at a younger audience (3-7 year olds). Go and see the show if you want to discover whether Charlie had what it takes to become the Sorcerer’s Apprentice…
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates visit blunderbus.co.uk/the-sorcerers-apprentice/4590850630.
For other shows at the Lawrence Batley Theatre visit www.thelbt.org.
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen’s Square, Queen Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2SP