I’ll start with saying we had a great time. However, I perhaps missed some details of the production because I was crying like a baby at; the adorable puppets, my daughter’s smiling face and just the sheer joy of being back at the theatre.
We have missed the colour and magic of the theatre so to experience one of our favourite stories live was a special adventure. A charming nuance was the set echoing the famous book’s illustrations; as we arrived, the stage was illuminated with those famous colourful dots we’re all familiar with from the book’s inside cover. The white backdrop resembled the books’s paper and actors wore white to blend into the imaginary pages. The colourful puppets therefore leapt off the page and focussed small people’s attention incredibly successfully.
The parred-back set and costumes allowed Eric Carle’s most famous creatures and stories to take centre stage (literally!) and reminded us that the best moments of story telling and live performance provoke imagination, not spectacle. Perhaps why Carle’s stories so successfully traverse 66 languages. I do love a spectacle as well though; today’s came from my 2 year daughter shouting “THERE’S THAT BLOODY CATERPILLAR!” as he emerged from his egg. The show tells 4 of Carle’s most famous stories using 3 actors and over 75 lovable puppets. The running time is 50 minutes which we found perfect; the age of children in the audience ranged from 1-4 and all remained engaged throughout. This is a testament to the well executed transitions, whimsical music and 3 animated and versatile actors.
Performing to a tiny (in number and in size!), socially distanced audience is not an easy task. Yet, the actors filled the stage and auditorium with their energy and the production felt like it was very much about the mini audience members. Children were encouraged at times to count out loud and shout names of animals or lines from the book which created a lovely atmosphere between everyone. Consequently, no one batted an eye lid at my 2 year old’s enthusiastic cussing!
The Hungry Caterpillar was a like a warm fuzzy, 50 minute hug and a wonderful reminder of why children’s theatre is an essential and marvellous family activity. Liverpool Playhouse handled all Covid requirements with reassuring success; we felt safe at all times.