First performed in 2008 and now debuting in the West End, this is another successful Tall Stories bid to negotiate the tricky task of being creatively free and dynamic while keeping faith with a much loved book (which in this case is told in a tight rhyming scheme). It is a beautifully imagined production.
Emma Maclennan (Cat) and Morag Cross (Witch) in Room on the Broom at the Lyric Theatre, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
The story - a witch accumulates various friends on her broomstick before confronting a wicked dragon - is imagined as witnessed by some friends out camping.
This allows for some fun pre-curtain up banter before the cast become the characters in the book - Emma MacLennan is a superb cat, lithe and bossy and lovable. Morag Cross is a ditzy, lovable witch while the bird, the dog and the frog are skillfully played as puppets, mainly by the Garrud and Donovan. The quality of the acting, singing and production values are high - particularly the snazzy trees fashioned out of broomsticks and a big moon to complement the atmospheric lighting.
This production is further lifted by some accomplished song writing by Fiber, Shaw and Price - catchy tunes and funny lyrics which put each animal in the spotlight. The puppets are also imaginatively and thoughtfully wrought and there is further proof that all puppet amphibians work best when they have US accents. And fortunately the dragon, although he spoke of eating kids on sticks, wasn’t too frightening. Delightful.