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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show review at Ambassadors Theatre, London – ‘charming and ingenious’

Adam Ryan in The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show at Ambassadors Theatre, London. Photo: Pamela Raith

Colour, movement, smiles, clear story telling, visual surprises and a narrative so iconically familiar that almost everyone in the audience can recite it from memory: it’s a promising mix for pre-schoolers’ show.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show presents four Eric Carle stories saving the famous, ravenous, primary coloured, eponymous insect until last.

Full marks to the Puppet Kitchen for creating over 70 astonishingly lovely puppets from the blue horse and green lion in the opening story to the ‘pregnant’ Mr Seahorse and all his fishy friends.

Then comes an engaging little Firefly in search of company and, finally, we get the Caterpillar and the magnificent stage-filling butterfly into which he eventually metamorphoses.

All four cast members (three visible and one not) have nifty puppetry skills so that the animal movement is theatrically realistic. And there’s some impressive voice work, especially from Andrew Cullimore, as each creature is made to sound different in the Seahorse story.

This isn’t the first attempt to dramatise the Eric Carle stories. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia toured a version in 2011. Jonathan Rockefeller and his team have scaled the source material up much further and the result is a fine piece of theatre which uses the whole space and retains all the charm of the books in a fresh way.

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Verdict
Charming and ingenious adaptation of the much-loved children’s books
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