16-31 December 2016
Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
My husband, 3 year old son and I, made the exciting adventure up to London yesterday to see the theatre production of Mimi and the Mountain Dragon. Based on the children’s book by Michael Morpurgo, of War Horse fame, it follows the story of a small village called Dorta in Switzerland where a young girl Mimi lives.
The production takes place in the Bloomsbury Studio which is a small and intimate theatre just right for telling the story. On entering I commented to my husband that there looked more people than seats, and there was, as the children all sit down the front on blankets like they are sitting round a camp fire listening to an old fairy tale.
Hayley Byfield & Bill Uden from the Skewbald Theatre Company engage the children from the word go, asking them to make scary faces to frighten the dragon as the seats are filling up. The stage shows a simple snowy backdrop and small houses filled with shining tea lights completes the wintery scenery. The tale starts with the description of the very noisy yearly festival that the villagers practice every year to scare the dragon away. The dragon lives in a castle at the top of the mountain and no one has ever seen it, yet they believe it to cause avalanches which makes them turn out to the streets and play all their musical instruments at top volume. In such a small space it was very loud indeed and a couple of the smaller children were a little frightened. That was all soon forgotten though as Mimi, a gorgeous little girl puppet arrived on stage. Mimi is an only child who desperately wanted a friend to play with and one day her wish comes true when she finds a baby dragon in the wood shed. Much as she would love to keep it with her she realises that mummy dragon will be upset and missing her so they set off up the high mountain pass to the castle to return the baby to his mother.
Hayley and Bill are the only two actors in this production yet they fill the stage with their performances of Mammy, Pappy, and Mimi. The addition of the wonderful mother and baby dragon puppets makes this production enthralling for both boys and girls, my little boy loved it. In fact, all three puppets are a delight and the children’s faces as they arrive on stage say it all. At the end of the show the children are invited to interact with the puppets and have their photo taken with them which I thought was a really lovely touch. Even my very shy 3 year old wanted to go up and see them close up.
Mimi and the Mountain Dragon is a happy and heart-warming story about friends, making your own mind up and facing your fears all told in a delightful child friendly way. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone with young children.
Directed/Adapted for the stage by Hayley Byfield & Tory Sandars. Book, Music & Lyrics by Caroline Wigmore & Jen Green. Puppet Design by Jessica Kay. Performed by Bill Uden & Hayley Byfield. Adapted from the book Mimi and the Mountain Dragon by Michael Morpurgo with Illustrations by Helen Stephens.
Tickets cost from £10 to £12 (booking fees may apply).
Mini and the Mountain Dragon is at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London until 31 December 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 020 3108 1000.
Bloomsbury Theatre. 15 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AH | 020 3108 1000