Tag Archives: Catriona Mackenzie

One Duck Down – 5 Stars

One Duck Down

One Duck Down

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 26th October 2018


“The sheer silliness and the underlying message are perfectly balanced”


Having taught seagulls to sing the national anthem, counted all the stones on the beach and memorised the phonebook, Billy, a lovestruck seventeen-year-old is yet to impress his unrequited crush, Cecilia Sourbottom. When challenged to collect 7000 rubber ducks that have accidentally been plunged into the ocean, Billy sets sail on a worldwide voyage to win over his love.

Cue a swashbuckling adventure, jampacked with clowning, musical numbers and physical theatre. Taking inspiration from a real life event in 1992, FacePlant Theatre deliver a strong message about pollution, with a light-hearted and accessible approach for young audiences. The original writing, packed with cheeky puns and witty pop culture references, makes it impossible for the whole family not to enjoy.

The cast demonstrate excellent storytelling skills and detailed characterisation in all of their roles. Jack Dorning as Billy delivers an energetic and captivating performance, which creates anticipation for each encounter on his journey. The multi-role performances of Alice Bounce, Maxwell Tyler and Lydia Hourihan are larger than life and showcase excellent voice adaptation. Among the amusing characters, Scuzzy the brummie rocker polar bear and Alberto the opera-singing Albatross are highlights.

The sheer silliness and the underlying message are perfectly balanced. The actors know when to slow the pace to emphasise an important point and when to pick up the momentum with slick transitions, demonstrating their skill and control throughout. The moment Billy recovers his plastic bottle on the debris island is particularly clear and effective. The musical numbers add to the fun and feature some lovely harmonies. The audience may be encouraged to sing along more with greater invitation and interactions from the cast members.

Lily Faith Knight’s design is ingenious and marries well with the make-believe story. Knight is able to get maximum use and effect out of simple props and costumes which magically come to life, featuring amongst other things, glove puppet crabs, a tin bath turned boat and three cardboard pieces that form a whale. Despite the minimalist set design, the attention to detail and the empathetic delivery of the actors, convey the humour of the writing extremely well.

Although the ending feels slightly rushed, the tale comes full circle to charmingly conclude Billy’s epic adventure. This production is imaginative and slightly quackers, but well worth a watch.


Reviewed by Beth Partington

Photography courtesy FacePlant Theatre


One Duck Down

Pleasance Theatre until 28th October



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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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