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New Children's Shows: Theatre round up

Two picture book adaptations bookended half term, together with a rock musical adaptation of a Greek myth!

Islington's tiny Little Angel Theatre is the perfect venue for a puppet adaptation of The Everywhere Bear, Julia Donaldson's story of the class teddy who gets lost.

The action centres on Max, the new boy in the class, whose puppet incarnation perfectly captures the essence of Rebecca Cobb's illustrations from the original picture book. The two actors, Lottie Johnson and Callum Bruce, are both excellent with special plaudits for Johnson who is a dab hand at playing teacher, mum and librarian. Lovely songs, warm humour, just the right dash of misfortune and adventure, make this gentle story about friendship a total delight.

The Everywhere Bear Little Angel Theatre, N1, 10 Feb–14 April, ages 3–8. Tickets: £14 adults, £12 children.

At the other end of town, Tidy, Emily Gravett's much-loved tale of a badger whose tidy streak gets out of hand, had its first-ever stage outing at Wimbledon's Polka Theatre.

An altogether bigger production, this filled the Polka's main stage and could happily have held a larger one. Pete the Badger is fastidious about cleaning up. When Autumn comes and the leaves start falling off the trees, Pete can't keep up and takes drastic action. The three person cast are superb. Robert Penny perfectly captures Pete's well-meaning heart under his OCD and Jack Benjamin and Clare Pointing as his friends Fox and Rabbit do their best to support him. There is genuine pathos in Pete's realisation of what his actions have led to but, given a helping hand, nature can regenerate and heal and spring comes again. Music, puppets, diggers, laughter and renewal. A special show that will surely become a classic.

Tidy Polka Theatre, SW19 10 Feb–24 March, ages 3–7. Tickets: from £10.

For older children, we were back up to the Little Angel (Studio) for Medusa's First Kiss.

There is much to love about this fun, funky take on the Medusa legend. Medusa is a new girl at Olympus High and she and Athena, the coolest kid at school, had a thing going. Or did they? Athena is blanking her and Medusa finds herself on the receiving end of a load of cruel taunting and bullying. Hey, she's a monster, look she's got snakes for hair. The punky songs are catchy and for the first 40 minutes I was fully engaged, rooting for Medusa (Holly Mallett) on her voyage of self-discovery. The supporting cast (all played in the production we saw by Nadia Wyn-Abouayea, excellent) included a brittle, on the edge, Headmistress Hera, cheerleader Aphrodite, sports star Atlas and class Goth Persephone. It slightly loses its momentum when the storyline necessarily departs from the myth but as a queer coming of age play, doubling as a new take on an ancient story, it is ambitious and largely successful.

Medusa's First Kiss Little Angel Theatre Studio N1 10 Feb–21 April, ages 10+. Tickets: £14 adults, £12 children.

Emily Turner, 20 February 2024


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