It’s always apparent that my children are excited when we visit the Lowry and it made me smile to see another little girl doing the ‘dance to the theatre dance’ outside today. Alongside my two, all were completely oblivious to their shared anticipation of what was going to be a lovely hour.
Today’s show was Elmer the Patchwork Elephant; in its 30th year, David McKee’s book is a favourite of families and the message be yourself is one which resonates with children and adults alike.
As we sat down, we were greeted by the beautiful, brightly coloured scenery which could have been straight out of the story books. ‘It looks like it’s going to be good’ is always a promising comment from the troops and true to form we weren’t disappointed.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Elmer is a brightly coloured patchwork Elephant who brings joy and jokes wherever he goes, but, when serious elephant business is afoot is left alone and lonely. Desperate to fit in he embarks on a journey of discovery. Various characters played by four talented puppeteers, featured Lion who caused audible delight, frogs and birds who are brought to life with wonderful, catchy songs. Feet tapping, hands clapping, the simple structure of the songs was ideal for young children and re-enactments could be heard throughout the theatre (and, in the case of the Be a rainbow, be a star, in the car on the way home!)
Not to spoil the surprise, Elmer finds a clever way to disguise himself and returns to the herd where, of course, he comes to the realisation that it is simply not the same without him. Playing his greatest trick of all time he learns and reminds the audience that individuality is a quality to embrace. We loved the interaction with puppets, especially the zebras who’s quirky dancing and important message raised a smile.
The show is recommended for children up to 7 years, and my 8-year-old quietly agreed that although he thought it was ‘going to be for babies’ he’d really enjoyed it (as had I.) I love the fact that the lights are dimmed (not plunged into darkness as I remember as a child) for performances which are not labelled as ‘relaxed’ for the children’s shows so our youngest theatre goers are able to really enjoy and interact with characters, singing along when encouraged. Once again, a relaxed performance is available, something I always look for in terms of inclusive access for all and is always worth a check at the Lowry. The audience was certainly a lively one today, sharing a dance, calling to their favourite characters and helping with a hearty BOO when requested.
My mini reviewers love the theatre and would certainly recommend a visit to Elmer with your little ones. They remain in Manchester until 19th February 2019 and are touring in various theatres into the summer months.