A production by Tall Stories, based on the picture book of the same name written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler; The Gruffalo’s Child takes audiences on a journey through the snowy woodland as the Gruffalo’s daughter goes on the hunt for the Big Bad Mouse.
Staying true to Scheffler’s original illustrations, the set is simple but beautiful and somehow has an almost animated finish even in real life. As if a character in its own right; the set, through design and movement, appears almost like a popup picture book and audiences will be mentally transported to the woodland scene before them. Fake snow lightly coats the stage, with white paint topping all of the set pieces for the perfect festive finish.
The cast is small, only amplifying the intimacy of this production. Starring Harriet Waters, Maxwell Tyler and Samuel Tracey, each three performers take their individual moments to shine and engage with the audience. Harriet’s portrayal of Gruffalo’s daughter is strong and consistent, perfectly encapsulating the energy and attitude of a rebellious child who has a point to prove. However, it’s Maxwell and Samuel who steal the show with their rolodex of voices and accents, portraying multiple characters throughout the show. Samuel plays Mouse and The Narrator, while Maxwell plays Gruffalo and the predators - Snake, Owl, and Fox. With all four characters adopting strongly unique characteristics and dance styles, Maxwell stands out to audiences with all of his songs and audience participation moments receiving the most audience engagement.
The costume designs for the production are simple and allude to what character (animal) the actor is in that moment. With their faces never fully covered by their costume, the actors can engage more directly with the audience and their movement is never once compromised. All eyes were on Gruffalo in the opening scene - with an echo of childish giggles and exclamations of joy filling the auditorium – head to toe, the costume is exactly what you’d expect based on the original text and illustrations, even for the older audience members there will be some sense of nostalgia in that initial moment.
The songs in this production may resonate more with the younger viewers but, with only a few notable lines, it was overall a somewhat forgettable soundtrack. This in no way is a criticism of the cast, they take the songs and choreography and deliver exactly what you’d hope.
If you’re after an easy and immersive watch, specifically with young children, The Gruffalo’s Child is a great introduction to live theatre. Running at only 60 minutes, audiences of all ages can be entertained without too much thought. Get lost with Gruffalo’s daughter and friends in this popup book of storytelling and songs. This is children’s theatre in its finest form.
The show will play at London’s Garrick Theatre through to January 7, 2024. With limited tickets remaining through the festive period, you can book now via the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review