31 January to 1 February 2015
Reviewed by Erica Bourn
We prepared to ‘Explore, Rescue and Protect’ as my 2½ year old twins, husband and I joined the Octonauts as Cadets on their first live theatre show tour, which was adapted from the hugely successful CBeebies show.
We boarded the Octopod in the Pacific Ocean from the lovely Hull New Theatre , where the mission for intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles and his crew was to rescue creatures from the threat of the imminent eruption of an underwater volcano. From the off, the show was highly interactive, with the audience learning how to steer first a gup and then the Octopod, grasping your imaginary steering wheel and veering left and right, high and low, (a task taken very seriously by my two year old Cadets!). On meeting Blob Fish brothers Bob and Bob, attentions turned to locating their brother, also Bob, which saw us journeying down to the midnight zone.
The underwater stage setting is impressive, particularly the control deck of the Octopod, which looks out onto a changing ocean scene. Costumes were also fabulous and represented brilliantly the familiar heroes from the television show, in a way not to disappoint even the most avid fan. Worthy of particular mention was the midnight zone puppet sea creatures – vampire squid, angler fish and even a Siphonophore – glowed and danced beautifully in the dark, thanks to fantastic puppeteering and UV effects.
True to the television show, the story was based on great principles, of teamwork and caring for others, and also makes a good play of providing educational information on marine life and environment. All this was delivered in a gentle, target audience appropriate manner. Catchy songs, with new music from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson, gives the show an upbeat, almost panto-like tone which worked wonderfully well. Yet it wasn’t without a sense of adventure either, and gasps could be heard from audience members on occasion as the Octonaut’s put themselves in danger to help the other sea creatures.
This was my littlest ones first theatre experience, and expecting one let alone two toddlers to stay engaged and sat on their bottoms for any length of time any parent knows can be a challenge. We need not have worried though, as they engaged fully into their experience, which was timed in perfect sized chunks for the audience in the two halves, with an interval to replenish stocks of hungry cadets and make appropriate toilet stops. They loved the singing, enchanting familiar characters, interaction and dancing, which provided the perfect ingredients for a hugely enjoyable afternoon and first theatre trip – the fact they left the show as fully fledged Octonaut’s was the icing on the cake.
The Octopod has now departed from Hull but continues its tour until 5 July 2015. For more information, tour dates, venues or to book tickets visit www.octonautslive.co.uk.
For other shows at the New Theatre in Hull visit www.hullcc.gov.uk/hullnewtheatre.
Hull New Theatre, Hull City Council, Kingston Square, Hull, HU1 3HF | 01482 300300