Review: Festive treat brings Gruffalo’s magic to life

The Gruffalo's Child
The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo’s Child, Warwick Arts Centre until January 3

Many young children will have been bought Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best seller The Gruffalo or its popular sequel The Gruffalo’s Child as a present for Christmas.

So to see the latter be brought to life on stage over the next few days should prove to be an extra festive treat for youngsters.

Tall Stories, the production company behind the show, have provided a lively and charming adaptation of the story which tells of how the Gruffalo - the beastly but nonetheless endearing creature from the first story - forbids his child to enter the deep dark wood.

But the curious and precocious youngster sets off in search of the mythical Big Bad Mouse, which has its father too terrified to venture out far.

This re-telling of the story adds some interesting interactions between the titular main character and the rogues gallery of predatory animals, which readers young and old will now be familiar with.

The Snake is depicted as a cheesy ballroom dancer, the Owl an over-the-hill flying instructor and the Fox a Del Boy-type salesman and its these clever humanisations which add more flavour and depth to proceedings.

There’s songs, dance, audience participation, some scary fun and some light humour packed into the show, which has a 55-minute running time - just right to hold a young child’s attention - and it makes for a short but definitely sweet morning or afternoon out at the Warwick Arts Centre.

Like most good children’s tales, there’s a moral to the story to do with wandering off without an adult and trusting, or talking to, strangers.

But like with the source material, it’s never laid on thick enough to render this anything less than a heart warming and upbeat experience.

By Oliver Williams