Trying to decide on the right play for your preschooler? You’ll be pleased to know that Ga Ga Theatre’s adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ Up and Down is absolutely perfect for under 5s – like the book, it’s a lovely tale of friendship and wishes, without any scary baddies. Sitting in the Riverside Studios audience with my daughter and her friend, I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to expectations – after all, I get to review some of the big West End shows for kids and plays by firmly established theatre companies like Tall Stories and Little Angel Theatre.
As the Boy and the Penguin skipped into the theatre, waving cheerily to the children in the audience, catching the eye of one child after another and saying Helloooo!, I knew we were in for a treat. From that moment and throughout the show, the two actors captured and held the attention of every child in the room. Even the older children – you know, the 7 year olds who think they are going on 17 and are way too cool – were rapt.
The play itself is quite different to anything I’ve seen before, so it’s hard to say how it compares to other children’s theatre. Much like the style of illustration used in Oliver Jeffers’ books, the set is colourful but minimal, but with a sweet animated digital backdrop – hence why it’s showing in the local repertory cinemas.
We loved their approach to audience participation – there are panto-style moments as well as a few quite magical props (I won’t give it away!), and when the children joined in with sounds effects for the make-believe airplane it was absolutely hilarious. Even with all the audience participation the vibe is warm and calm – surprising given that it’s a room full of preschoolers!
Overall, it was a really lovely little show, and just right for children aged 2 to 5. If you have older children in tow, I would say that if your 6 or 7 year old is a fan of Oliver Jeffers and appreciates theatre then they will enjoy it too, but any older than that might be a push. I took my 7 year old daughter – she really enjoyed it and was entranced, but afterwards said that she thought it was “just right for the little ones”.
Visit the Ga Ga Theatre website for details about buggy parking, changing tables and for more reviews: http://www.gagatheatre.co.uk/shows/up-and-down
Ga Ga Theatre’s adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ Up and Down is on at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley until Sunday June 1st, at the Richmond Curzon June 3rd to 5th, and at the Curzon Chelsea from June 6th to 8th.
[button link=”http://www.gagatheatre.co.uk/book-tickets/” type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] Click here for 30% off tickets for Up and Down at the Phoenix Cinema (use promo code HALFTERM)[/button]