Category Archives: Family

Review of Rapunzel – 4 Stars



Chicken Shed Theatre

Reviewed – 30th November 2017


“navigates the line between what is real and what imaginary skilfully”


Chickenshed’s Rapunzel is an utter joy. Ambitious and energetic; a visual and musical beauty, with a strong take home message to celebrate the power of your imagination. I left with a warm glow in my heart and a lasting tingle down my spine. This production is a must-see.

The cast of talented and dynamic children and adults were always committed and eye-catching. At all points, the stage was active and engaging, and the team of choreographers must be commended for their innovation. From dryads, to gnomes, to spiders and traders, every cluster had a distinct way of moving and communicating. I felt the work behind every performance and every moment, and am filled with respect and awe for the creatives. Cerys Lambert, sixteen-year-old babysitter Hazel and, in her dreams (or her reality…), Rapunzel, played the nuances of her role with grace and warmth. Culminating in ‘I Want It All’, this rendition of Rapunzel focuses on finding yourself, ‘searching, falling, losing, learning’, and is a spot-on contemporary reclamation of traditional, gender-stereotypical fairy tales.

Lucy Sierra’s set, expertly lit by Andrew Caddies, was a dream to behold. Textured walls, secret cubby holes, and Rapunzel’s tower, concealed by netted leaves, all contributed to the atmosphere of discovery, excitement, and subtle darkness, which the story handles bravely. Simon Wells’ costumes were striking, novel and wonderfully varied. This production created so many exquisite pictures: perfectly-timed spotlights during songs; flying lanterns, to which the little boy next to me said ‘wow!’ under his breath; moving seamlessly between small groups of performers to a stage full to the brim; chaotic, but with intention, and always artful. At one moment, Rapunzel’s mesmerising theme, the most memorable of all the music, ‘Sweet the Dream’, washed over the auditorium, and her shape was visible in the tower, lit up behind the leaves. I was immersed in the magical world which Chickenshed concocted.

Lou Stein’s script weaves in and out of sprightly and lilting rhyming verse. The lyrics, which he wrote alongside composer Dave Carey, are occasionally excessive, and the jokes can be a little too knowing. Gemilla Shamruk had magnetic stage presence, though her sexy song was a little jarring, and somewhat disrupted the tone of her evil. But mostly, it was very refreshing to have the content of a traditional story challenged, to include far-reaching references outside of its world, and keep audiences on their toes. Rapunzel is consistently well-paced, and it navigates the line between what is real and what imaginary skilfully, originally and to spine-tingling effect, such that I was left believing in both worlds equally.

To mention the performances I was impressed by would entail listing all the names in the programme; but I particularly enjoyed Will Lawrence and Nathaniel Leigertwood’s tricksy and witty double-act; and Loren Jacobs and Belinda McGuirk’s mythical dryads and their counterparts, who sustained their eerie stature throughout, whilst taking turns to sign the show. Chickenshed created an equal stage for everyone who was on it, and for audiences alike. Though individuals shone, the fabric of the show is woven by the miraculous thing which happens when people of all shapes, sizes and forms of expression come together to make something they believe in.

The electrifying, flawless live band elevated Rapunzel yet further, and Dave Carey’s fantastic orchestration was eclectic and exciting. The audience were riveted and attention never lulled. I am still flicking through the very well assembled programme. Go and see Rapunzel today, and discover ‘what you are made of, and what you can be’!


Reviewed by Eloise Poulton

Photography by Daniel Beacock




is at the Chicken Shed Theatre until 6th January 2018



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Review of The Gruffalo’s Child – 4 Stars


The Gruffalo’s Child

Lyric Theatre

Reviewed – 24th November 2017


“the catchy songs get stuck in your head for hours after you’ve left the theatre”


Tall Stories’ latest production of The Gruffalo’s Child is heart-warming and the perfect family show for the run up to Christmas. The musical is adapted from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book, and is the sequel to The Gruffalo. The story continues on from the first instalment, and this time follows the journey of the Gruffalo’s child, played by the wonderful Sophie Alice. She goes on a quest to find the Big Bad Mouse, and along the way meets all the characters we recognise from The Gruffalo: the snake, the owl, the fox and of course, the clever mouse.


The cast is made up of only three actors, but their energy fills the stage. They work extremely well together, and are perfectly in sync in all their actions. The show utilises a lot of physical theatre and this is only successful because of how well the actors work together. Catriona Mackenzie brings the character of the mouse alive, also acting as a narrator throughout. Sophie Alice as the Gruffalo’s child, captures the childlike energy of the character. Andrew Mudie is particularly impressive, playing four completely different animal characters, each with his own distinct accent and personality. He easily seizes the audience’s attention, even the youngest of children, and engages everyone in audience participation.

Composers Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw did a great job of transforming the short storybook into a musical. The music and lyrics are simple, but fitting to the show, and the catchy songs get stuck in your head for hours after you’ve left the theatre. Whilst some of the content can be considered a little dark, with the young Gruffalo threatening to eat all of the animals she meets, this is true to the original story and helps move the narrative along.

The set (Isla Shaw) is very simple, consisting of a few trees and rocks that get moved around the stage to create new settings, placing the entire focus on the fantastic trio of actors. There is the perfect balance of audience participation, and the show is interactive enough to keep young children entertained throughout. With a running time of only 55 minutes, Olivia Jacobs’ direction delivers a very fast paced, delightful one act show. The Gruffalo’s Child is perfect for anyone looking to take their children for a Christmas treat, especially if they are fans of The Gruffalo books.


Reviewed by Charlotte Cox

Photography by Toby Mitchell for Tall Stories





is at The Lyric Theatre until 7th January 2018




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