REVIEW: THERE’S A MONSTER IN YOUR SHOW
Tom Fletcher’s Hit Book Series Escapes from Page to Stage
Parents of young children know the drill with Tom Fletcher’s hit series of interactive, Who’s in Your Book? stories.
So turn your phone upside down, blow the screen, clap three times and jump to the next sentence, because there’s a review in your screen.
My son can’t get enough of the McFly-singing author's best-sellers, which feature assorted creatures from monsters to unicorns, gallivanting around inside stories and requiring children to shake books, flap pages, press images and imagine scenes to complete the tales.
So his already fizzy, three-year-old energy (my son’s, not Fletcher’s) is shaken to new levels of excitement, when he discovers all the characters have leapt from page to stage for new musical, There’s a Monster in Your Show.
We head to Southbank Centre’s annual, Imagine Children’s Festival for the first performance of its year-long, UK tour.
And over the course of a high energy, 50 minutes - with sets and puppets which are forensically faithful to illustrator, Greg Abbott’s colourful drawings and new music by Fletcher, Barry Bignold and Miranda Larson - my son finds it is just as interactive and imagination-pumping as the books.
The story begins with four “story-makers” whose plan to make a show is thwarted by a cheeky monster who has escaped from his book, teasing the audience with the odd limb or silhouette on the simple, but cleverly used set, and leading to textbook, kid-pleasing “he’s behind you” screeching.
The four energetic performers throw themselves around the stage and auditorium, dancing, singing and finally - when the Monster reveals himself - doubling as excellent puppet masters of wonderfully emotive creatures.
Eventually, the Monster is joined by other popular stars from the book series - the sassy, flying Unicorn, with pleasing, flashing hooves and horn; the Dragon - who hatches from a giant egg and sneezes smoke - and the show-stealing Alien, who arrives in a jazzy, flying saucer.
The songs are catchy and memorable and get the children to their feet, aping the casts' actions and helping the creatures in their respective quests.
Eventually, after an artfully chaotic, slapstick and noisy adventure, the cast befriend the creatures and allow them to become part of their big show. This acts as the big finale, and reprises songs and routines which the children are now familiar enough with to join in.
Finally, the creatures happily dive back into their respective books, magically appearing in the previously blank covers, to be enjoyed by children in the audience - who lap them up at the merch stand after the show.
It’s a perfect introduction to theatre for little minds and a wholesome and fun celebration of friendship, imagination and books.
There’s a Monster in Your Show. Assorted UK dates from 7 February until 24 December 2024.
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