Knowing the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a rite of passage for both parents and children. In fact, I would go as far as to say it would be in my Top Ten Must Reads for Children! When we were asked to review the show, prior to its West End Debut this Christmas (2016), we decided it was the perfect opportunity to introduce our littlest one (17 months) to the theatre…
We took the opportunity to visit Warwick Arts Centre for this performance. The Arts Centre is situated within the University Campus and, although parking was a little tricky, we loved the fact that the Arts Centre was right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of a University, thus prompting lots of conversations from my 6 year old about what University was and why people go there!
The Arts Centre is spacious, with lots of ramps and stairs for clambering up and wearing out a busy toddler prior to a 60-minute show, there is also a nice little coffee shop with good coffee and cakes to keep parents happy too!
The show itself is a ‘menagerie of 75 enchanting puppets during a magical 60-minute show that faithfully adapts four of Eric Carle’s best loved books for the stage: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. The set is pure white, allowing for lovely visual effects to stand out and keep little ones focused.
The performance opens with ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse’ and the audience were attentive as each colour and animal was introduced in turn; there were lots of shouts of animal names and colours from the audience and both my 6-year-old and toddler were totally captivated by the brightly colored and true to Eric Carle puppets…the puppets really were enchanting!
Next came ‘Mister Seahorse’ which again prompted lots of cries of ‘fish’ from my toddler. He also started waving and shouting ‘bye bye’ to each character that was introduced, getting into the repetition of the story nicely as characters came onto and off the stage.
‘The Very Lonely Firefly’ followed; at this point I noticed a Granddad in front of us who was following the story with his little one holding the book in front of him. This was a lovely way of connecting both text and performance but for me, it highlighted how true to the text and illustrations the performance actually was!
The performance is well structured because just as the children in the audience became a little wriggly the much anticipated performance of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ began. This was, of course, the highlight, and being the most popular of the stories featured prompted lots of audience participation, particularly with the line ‘…but he was STILL hungry!’ The caterpillar himself is enchanting and again, the performance mirrors the illustrations in the text beautifully.
If you get a chance to catch either the tour or the West End performance (at the Ambassadors Theater from the 2nd December) I would thoroughly recommend it. Not only is it a superb introduction to the theatre for toddlers, my 6 year old (and Mum and Dad too!) were all enchanted by the performance and after chatting with some other ‘theatre goers’ in the Arts Centre afterwards, I would have to say it was a big hit among us all!
NB: Rachel and her family received complimentary entrance to the show but all views and opinions are her own.