Few parents will have escaped Peppa Pig. The ubiquitous, happy hog has been jumping up and down in muddy puddles for the past 15 years in her own TV series, and a live theatre show has existed for a decade now.
The latest instalment sees Peppa and her family embarking on a day out, stopping off at a mine before going on to visit a castle. The format ensures that everything that makes the TV show so successful – including the simple narration and vibrant backdrop colours – transfers to the stage.
From the voices of the characters, to designs by Simon Scullion that faithfully replicate the series’ animation, this isn’t a reinvention of Peppa Pig for theatre but a loving recreation of the TV show on stage.
And it works beautifully. From the moment a lively Lizzie Burder bounds on stage as Peppa’s best friend, Daisy, you know you’re in safe hands.
Within minutes she’s asking the audience for their help to call for Peppa (one of the many interactive moments in the show, which also includes a mass game of musical statues) and soon Peppa and brother George arrive.
When they come on stage, as puppets controlled and voiced to perfection by Alice De-Warrenne and Melanie Ann, there is something genuinely awe-inspiring for both children and adults in seeing these idols of kids’ TV in the flesh (or bacon).
The other characters are played by actors in skins, including Miss Rabbit – who pops up in many roles, providing a funny and knowing nod to an ongoing joke in the TV series that she’s the hardest-working rabbit in the world.
There’s music, dancing, a wonderful scene using ultraviolet lighting that features two knights flossing and some brilliant fun with water that gets the audience wet. It’s not a radical staging, but then its young audiences don’t want it to be. And nor do the adults, to be honest.