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Hello Kitty Live: Fashion and Friends review at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo – ‘a shallow, commercial romp’

Hello Kitty Live: Fashion and Friends. Photo: Davide Severi Hello Kitty Live: Fashion and Friends. Photo: Davide Severi

If you want fine, sensitive and intimate theatre for children, you need to be in a small venue in which actors engage with their audience. A 3,000-seat venue such as the Eventim Apollo with anonymous performers encased in puppet-style plastic costumes allows only the clumsiest of interaction and results in a young audience that is restive, rather than rapt. There is a great deal of animation in this show too. High quality as that is, the children might as well be watching a TV show, although the immersive aircraft take-off is good fun.

Katrina Flavell works hard as a breathy, girlish narrator bounding about the stage and trying to inspire the audience like a pantomime escapee from Cinderella or Snow White. Most of the rest of the ensemble are in their identity-concealing costumes engaging in clunky dance sequences and speaking with pre-recorded voices – and the providers of those aren’t credited either. There is, perforce, no eye contact other than with Flavell and the mask faces don’t have mouths, so accepting that they are speaking at all requires suspension of disbelief.

But Hello Kitty is a phenomenally strong worldwide brand and no doubt parents will flock to it with their children during the show’s forthcoming international tour. None of them are likely to be much interested in my view that this is a twee, brash show with a very weak narrative that isn’t going to help its young audience to learn and develop, as good theatre for young audiences always does. Moreover, the sternum-rattlingly loud music can’t be good for infantile ears, and all those flashing lights are anything but soothing. Give it a miss.

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A shallow, commercial romp