28 July 2016
Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
Yesterday I took my very excited 3 year old son to watch the stage show of Hairy Maclary and Friends at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall. It was absolutely packed with children, parents and grandparents looking for a fun afternoon out. They definitely weren’t disappointed with a very entertaining musical style show which kept the main target audience of under 5’s enthralled.
As you would expect the show is repetitive in terms of songs and actions to keep up audience participation with the little ones. It worked brilliantly with the six main doggy characters from the books, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Hercules Morse big as a horse, Bottomley Potts all covered in spots, Muffin McLay like a bundle of hay, Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony & Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum constantly referred to with their nicknames so all the audience were shouting out and joining in.
The show is the perfect length of time at around an hour but manages to fit in 5 or six stories from the popular books including meeting Zachary Quack. The most entertaining is when Hairy Maclary goes off for a walk in town, followed by his friends. All is fine until they meet Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town, he scares the dogs off and they run for home. Scarface Claw was so funny adults and children alike were laughing loudly.
I was expecting the animals to be played by puppets but they are played by people in costumes which works really well in terms of the actions the look and size of the dogs, it also works in terms of engaging the children as the dogs can have tummy tickles and chase each other like real dogs.
The set is bright and colourful yet compact, one piece opens up and turns around into many different backdrops to suit the current story e.g. Samuel’s Stones butchers shop or Schnitzel von Krumm’s under stairs basket.
The stories are short, fun and bring the books to life. As a further addition to the action the audience were asked to look for six missing pictures throughout the show which meant excitement and loud shouting every time one was seen.
Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall is the perfect place to see a children’s show with the PUP Café on the lower ground floor with soft play and snacks while you wait. There is buggy parking in the foyer which is a bonus for those with younger children. Parking is right next door in the multi storey.
All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves watching Hairy Maclary and Friends including my son who was literally speechless starting at the stage throughout. A great afternoon out and good value for money it comes highly recommended.
Hairy Maclary and Friends is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tours dates visit www.hairymaclaryshow.co.uk.
For other shows at the Assmbly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613