Taking the Gruffalo with the smooth at London’s Garrick Theatre

PUBLISHED: 10:06 10 December 2010

The Gruffalo at the Garrick Theatre

The Gruffalo at the Garrick Theatre

Archant

The Gruffalo was recently voted the nation’s favourite bedtime story in a BBC Radio 2 poll and anybody who knows the story or has shared it with a child, will know why it is so popular. This Christmas the Gruffalo is returning to the stage after proving such a hit when it toured in the summer. For families looking for an alternative to panto, a compromise after all the Christmas shopping or just an hour of entertaining fun, the show at the Garrick Theatre in London is the perfect solution.

Bursting with songs and humour, the Gruffalo on stage is a delightful treat for adults and children and it transfers from the page to the stage with ease.

The Gruffalo is a story about Mouse’s search for the elusive hazelnut he craves but in order to find it he must journey through the deep dark wood. On his journey he frightens away would-be predators with tall stories about a terrifying monster he calls the Gruffalo, but when Mouse comes face to face with the Gruffalo, the story takes quite a turn.

Despite being a fan of the story when I went to see the show on a snowy afternoon in late November, I was overwhelmed by the appreciation its young fans have for the story – with almost all of them able to beat the actors to their lines. Initially, the historic Garrick theatre cast its magical spell over many of the young audience as they entered to take their seats and they sat totally spellbound. But their awe swiftly turned to excitement when the show began and they were instantly captivated.

They quickly accepted that the two storytellers would guide Mouse on his journey and take on the roles of Fox, Snake and Owl and it was not long before they picked up the chorus of the songs and started to join in. They were encouraged to interact throughout the show and it wasn’t long before I was joining in with the chorus of “Didn’t you know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!”

Many in the audience were so versed in the story that little in the performance came as a surprise, but this delighted them and when The Gruffalo finally appeared, they erupted with excitement.

The hour-long performance was the perfect length of time for a young audience and this stage production remains faithful to a story that means so much to so many. If you’re in London this Christmas period, make sure you treat the children – and yourself – to seeing a classic children’s story vibrantly brought to life.

The Gruffalo will be running all through December and January at various times throughout the week and weekend. Tickets cost £11.50-£14.40 and can be purchased from the box office on 0844 4124662.

LAURA ROBERTS

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