13 April 2014
Reviewed by Tricia Shaw
On Sunday 13 April as Greenwich was clearing up from the London Marathon we headed for the local theatre to watch “Pirate Gran” a new Musical show for children. This was only my second visit to Greenwich Theatre; my first was for a pantomime a couple of years ago. It is a lovely little theatre situated close to the centre and within easy walking distance of Cutty Sark Gardens, The National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park and as such there are plenty of local transport links. There is plenty of parking both on-street and in car parks but be careful to look at the signs indicating restrictions (the average cost of parking was £2.50 per hour).
On arrival at the theatre we collected our tickets from the box office where the staff were very friendly and helpful. We then headed downstairs where there is a small bar area and a kiosk which sell the usual snacks and drinks including ice cream for £2. The toilet facilities were clean although perhaps a little dated. For wheelchair users there is a lift facility and space for 2 wheelchairs in the auditorium.
When the auditorium doors opened we headed upstairs to our seats. Being small, it affords a cosy atmosphere which is ideal for children’s theatre. We settled ourselves easily and looked down at the stage where a simple lounge scene was set. The design of the tiered seating meant that even the little ones had no trouble seeing the stage over the heads of those in front.
As the lights went out I heard a little one say “I don’t like the dark” but as Gran came onto the stage and the show got underway little faces gazed in awe at the action on stage. Grandpa’s brief appearance at the opening of the show reminded me so much of my own grandfather rattling the tea tray and it is this attention to the little details that draws the audience into the story as it unfolds.
The production is based on the story written by Geraldine Durrant and illustrated by Rose Forshall. The three pirates played by Martyn Dempsey, Jack Maurice and Peta Maurice persuade Pirate Gran (Pauline Goldsmith) to come out of retirement and sail off to the Pirate Games.
With catchy music, fun dance routines and plenty of interaction with the audience Pieter Lawman has done an excellent job directing this Scamp Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre production. The audience is encouraged to use their imagination as they sail with the crew on their adventure. “Count to 10 and take a deep breath” is the message Gran gives to the young pirates as they face their fears on the way to the Games. She is not afraid of monsters, or the dark, she bakes and knits and has other amazing skills.
We absolutely loved the crocodile Nippy and were so impressed with the way the actors interacted to bring him to life. What amazed me the most about the production however is the ingenious set and props design. I loved the dual purpose lamp, treasure chests and other furniture such as the coffee table which transforms into the ship’s wheel; there really were no end of surprises.
With a run time of 1 hour (no interval) the show is ideal for young children aged 3 – 7 although older children are likely to enjoy it (even if they won’t admit it).
Pirate Gran was part of the Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival and is continuing on tour around the UK culminating in the Udderbelly Festival London 30 June to 5 July and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 31 July to 25 August 2014.
For more information and tour dates visit www.scamptheatre.com.
Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, London, SE10 8ES | 020 8858 7755