Setting the scene
Anxiously entering the theatre, hand in hand with my recently turned three-year-old, I was fully prepared to not make it through the 55-minute performance.
Being a parent to what some would describe as a ‘spirited’ and active toddler, I’ve become well versed in the walk of shame out of cinemas and bounce and rhyme groups across the county! But I needn’t have worried, because today I had a secret weapon… a six-foot tiger!
Staff at the Everyman Theatre were incredibly accommodating to the hordes of young audience members, providing free booster seats and a designated area to leave buggies and pushchairs.
I tentatively made my way to our seats for what would be our first family theatre experience.
The cast of four actors took on the roles of Mummy, Daddy, Sophie and the cheeky tiger who, without saying a word, charmed the audience through dance, gesture and a hugely comic physicality.
With every hour that passed in Sophie’s day, the audience was encouraged to count along with the clock and tell the time, encouraging participation and engagement.
There were also opportunities to sing along with songs about sausages, chips and ice cream; and even get involved in a spot of tiger aerobics.
The audience participation was just enough to keep my little one engrossed, and allowed him the opportunity to get up from his seat to dance and helped him relax into his first theatre experience.
Charming family entertainment
As an introduction to theatre, The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Everyman Theatre was the perfect combination of a familiar bedtime story, catchy songs, and physical theatre.
With each knock at the door, excited squeals bounced around the theatre, as children surmised if it could indeed be time for the tiger! Creating such suspense amongst a room of pre-schoolers is no mean feat, but when you’re a 6-foot-something tiger, you really do have the audience in the palm of your paw.
Aside from eating all the food in the cupboard, and drinking all the water in the tap, The Tiger Who Came to Tea clearly delighted all the people in the seats, with joyful giggles and ripples of excitement clear to hear, even as theatre goers exited the auditorium.
The performance was recommended for children aged three and above, and with a 55-minute run time was just about manageable for an active toddler when plied with snacks!
This was a magical experience to enjoy as a family, and the ideal introduction to the world of theatre.
By Melissa Hamblett