It can be difficult to find shows suitable for the very young - the best theatre for tiddlypeeps often has a rather frustrating five-plus recommendation - but here is a show that will mesmerise toddlers of pre-school age, and even kept a babe-in-arms enthralled for the duration.
Jenanne Redman (Mummy), Abbey Norman (Sophie) and Alan Atkins (Tiger) in The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric Theatre, London Photo: Alastair Muir
David Wood’s faithful adaptation of Judith Kerr’s much-loved children’s book is bought to life in a shabby-chic kitchen set and with replica vintage costumes all worthy of their own section on Pinterest (both designs by Susie Caulcutt). The story of a terribly gracious but jolly hungry tiger embraces its audience of excited youngsters, drawing them into the possibility of adventure that can happen on an ordinary day.
Although some of the children are mildly outraged that the friendly feline doesn’t talk, the movement of the exquisitely costumed Alan Atkins (who also gets a few laughs in his slapstick daddy routine wearing a tea cosy on his head and suchlike) speaks volumes. The physical gestures of Abbey Norman as Sophie are also spot on.
While some adults will become clammy-palmed at the thought of audience participation, the invited singing and dance routines keep the young ‘uns from flagging, as the 55-minute run flits by.
A wonderful make-believe romp from the onset, the cast sings of the book “we have come to act it out, and you have come to see”. The theatrical creative play continues throughout as mummy turns the clock with her hands, the family jumps into a car made out of a table and chairs and the hungry tiger scoffing everything in the cupboard leaves small folk delightfully baffled. Altogether, it’s a wonderful introduction to the magic of the theatre.