31 March to 2 April 2015
Reviewed by Jolene Keddy
I love the “Room on the Broom” story, it is probably my favourite Julia Donaldson book and Tall Stories Theatre did not let me or my son down. Their production of “Room on the Broom” is full of laughs, bright colours and catchy musical numbers.
Right from the outset Tall Stories Theatre company pulled the audience in. As my son was so eager to watch the show (he constantly asked me throughout the morning ‘are we going to the “Room on the Broom” yet?’) we went in as soon as the doors were open. This could have been a mistake, as patience is not something my four year old or any four year is good at. It was thankfully a good idea, he straight away saw the broom and then we starting to spot different items that were part of the set. About ten minutes later, while people were still coming in, the actors came on and started interacting with the audience. I think this was a really clever idea, it involved us straightaway but also put the children at ease so that they knew who the actors were before the lights went out.
The show it’s self was a clever adaptation of the book. It was set around four people camping who think they see something coming towards them; that something being the witch. The play itself is a mix of the book, new script and musical numbers. The lines of the book were read out at specific times and a special point was made of them. I really enjoyed this as Julia Donaldson’s words are so brilliant it was good to hear them clearly.
I was very impressed with the singing voices of all the actors/actress’ they can all defiantly hold a tune and act while doing so. The musical numbers were really enjoyable, the frog’s song has to be my favourite and of course the frog would be from New Orleans! It matched him perfectly. The final musical number was my son’s favourite and it was lovely to hear him singing along. He was still singing it on the way back home.
The costumes and especially the puppets were amazing. The colours and style of them really enhance the production and help to maintain the children’s interest. They were used in such a way to give each one a character that matched the book. I liked the idea as well that it was the cat that actually looked after the witch and not the other way around.
I should say that my son is four years old and knows his own mind, if he is bored he will tell me again and again and again. Not once did he show any kind of boredom and as soon as we were leaving he wanted to come back again. High praise from an easily distracted four year old. He laughed throughout, watched everything and joined in, very loudly. It is lovely watching that confidence in children and the whole audience were joining in at times.
The show is marketed at 3 years + and this is probably correct! There was a girl about two years old near me however, who did enjoy the experience. The brilliant bright costumes, puppets and music were probably mesmerising for her even if she didn’t understand the story. Her older sister sat by me, I believe she was about 8, she loved every minute of it and swayed along to the music. There were also many people who brought their babies along so this company does welcome all ages and it means you can have a whole family outing to the theatre.
I think Tall Stories Theatre Company offer such a great way to introduce young children to the wonders of the theatre. The atmosphere is one that makes the children feel confident to speak out and parents to feel fine with them doing that. It was truly a great way to spend the afternoon.
The Bristol Old Vic is a beautiful theatre. There are lovely gold decorations including gold stars on the ceiling. The seats were also amazing, this is something that can be a problem especially in older theatres but not here. The production was 55 minutes long and not at one point did I feel fidgety. A lot of care has been taken making sure that the Old Vic stays in really good condition and they should be really proud of what they have achieved. It is the best kept theatre I have been in for years (apart from the purple carpet). There are two bars which serve a large range of alcohol, soft and hot drinks. They also serve tapas style food. It is a nice place to have a drink before the show.
Bristol is a fantastic city and because the Old Vic is easily walking distance to the centre, Millennium Square and the market you can combined a show with seeing some of Bristol. I recommend the market for lunch so many options and they all smell great.
Going to the theatre with your child and looking around Bristol is a fab way to spend a day. I fully recommend it. The fact that this is such an amazing production was a bonus. I will be looking out for their “Snail and the Whale” production.
Tickets cost £12.50 (plus £1.50 booking fee).
Room on the Broom is at the Old Vic in Bristol until 2 April 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0117 987 7877.
Old Vic, King Street, Bristol, BS1 4ED | 0117 987 7877