Grandpa in my Pocket: Teamwork
24-27 July 2013
Reviewed by Emma Wasson
I took my family to the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford to see the stage version of Grandpa in my Pocket: Teamwork! presented by the Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company.
I went to the box office for my tickets and the lady didn’t have my tickets but was very polite and helpful and found out that the press officer had my tickets, whom I found a few minutes later. I was handed my tickets, together with a programme and 4 complimentary drinks for the interval, which was a pleasant surprise.
All encounters with staff were positive. A member of staff was located at each entrance to the theatre and pointed us in the direction of our seats, the bar and the toilets. We had arrived in plenty of time and had a drink before the performance started. There was no queue and plenty of comfy seats to sit on to enjoy our drink. At the interval we were served immediately and each given a drink of our choice. All bar staff were very polite and friendly. The toilets were busy before the performance and after, but not during the interval, they were clean and stocked with toilet paper, soap and towels.
It was my first time at the Bradford Alhambra Theatre. The kids were very excited as we approached as it has a huge dome on the front, which they loved. The auditorium itself is very impressive and is exquisitely decorated. We were sat in Row K in the middle and had an excellent view of the stage. At the end of the stalls were boxes looking directly at the stage, which not all theatres have and I thought these were particularly good as you look directly at the stage, what a great idea.
As we took our seats we were not quite sure what to expect. Both my children enjoy watching Grandpa in my Pocket on the TV and my 6 year old daughter and I were discussing, before the show, how they were going to shrink Grandpa, without the visual effects of the TV. My 4 year old son just told me it was magic and all he needed was his shrinking cap. My daughter just thought he might bend down and pretend to be small. We were just going to have to wait and see!!!
The cast was made up of 6 characters, of whom 4 of them played more than 1 person. We saw this in the programme before the show and weren’t sure how they were going to pull this off, however it was done extremely well. The show started with the 6 characters chatting and then deciding they were going to play dressing up and play the various Sunnysands characters from the Grandpa in my Pocket TV show, and make up a story as they went along.
Each actor/actress introduced themselves as who they going to play at the beginning so all the children knew which characters were going to be in the show, apart from Dale who played Horatio who said he would reveal his character later in the show. The music played an integral part of the show and really got the younger audience involved. The theme music for Grandpa in my Pocket was used throughout for songs from the TV and also for songs adapted for the stage show and my daughter was very excited when it was first played, and told me it was the same music from the TV. The first half of the performance was mainly used to introduce the characters and to set the scene for the tale. We saw Horatio the bank manager of Sunnysands introduced to the audience and told he had always wanted to be a pirate, and go on adventures looking for treasure and it was agreed that several of the Sunnysands residents including Jason would set sail for Bongle Island to find the hidden treasures. During the first half of the play the cast asked the audience questions and tried to involve them, however after the interval they took this to a new level.
During the first half of the show, Grandpa took out his shrinking cap and as the music played he dashed in and out of the beach huts and became a puppet which also became progressively smaller. It was very cleverly done and when he was extremely tiny he fitted in Jason’s pocket, otherwise they had made a puppet just a little bit bigger and one of the cast operated the puppet, whose legs moved back and forth very quickly which I thought was very funny. It was done extremely well and you found yourself looking at Grandpa as opposed to the guy operating the puppet and listening to what Grandpa had to say.
After the interval the audience was sat in their seats watching the stage waiting for the cast to appear, only to discover that the cast were in their pretend boat coming down the aisle. Both my children thought this was brilliant. During the second half, shrinking Grandpa came out into the audience and Jason came looking for him and came right up to my husband and son asking if he’d seen Grandpa. There was a lot more audience participation and this really made the performance as the kids had become used to the characters and were warmed up to joining in. My daughter’s confidence grew as the show progressed and I watched delighted as she was shouting at the stage the answers they were after.
The second half of the performance saw the merry band arrive at Bongle Island only to be thwarted by the Bongle Birds. However using teamwork tiny Grandpa and Jason saved the day and solved the mystery of the missing treasure. Also it was very funny when Grandpa came back to his real size and very exhausting for Jason running round and round the beach hut with the growing Grandpa puppets, the changeover was seamless, well done.
I thought it was pitched perfectly for my 4 and 6 year old children, my 4 year old still found it quite difficult to sit still, however the second half kept him much more entertained. My daughter loved all of it and when asked who was her favourite character she replied all of them!!! She really got into the swing of the whole performance clapping along to the songs, joining in the audience participation parts and enjoyed the story.
I thought it was pitched just right, the songs were carefully worded using lots of repetition and easy clear words for the kids to understand and also used alliteration during many of the songs, which is great for kids vocabulary.
The songs were brilliant, very catchy, and easy for the kids to join in and as mentioned above many using the TV theme tune. Many of the lines used in the performance were from the TV show, which helped the children as they recognised it and were familiar with it enabling them to feel comfortable and join in right from the start.
As for the characters themselves, a job well done! Each character, whether it be Mr Mentor the Inventor or Great Aunt Loretta not only wore the same costumes from the TV show, but had the accents and mannerisms of the characters down to a tee. My family and I didn’t know Horatio, who maybe a new character we’ve not seen on TV or a character brought in for the stage show. However he was brilliant and was definitely my favourite character full of energy and had an excellent presence on the stage at all times.
I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and would definitely recommend it to a friend with children of a similar age. The performance was upbeat and vibrant from start to finish; all cast members gave 100%. True likeness to the TV show, with plenty of audience participation which delighted the younger theatre goers.
Grandpa in my Pocket: Teamwork is showing at the Alhambra in Bradford until 27 July but is on tour around the UK until 22 September 2013. For more information, tour dates or to book tickets visit www.grandpainmypocketlive.co.uk