Sunday, 15 June 2014

What The Ladybird Heard at the Civic Theatre

Chelmsford for Families

What the Ladybird Heard is a show aimed at children aged 2+ and it has been touring the country. Last week it was shown at the Civic Theatre and, because he loves the book, I took T along for his second trip to the theatre. 

It is always difficult to know what to expect from a theatre adaption of a childrens' book. These books take 10 minutes maximum to read at bedtime, and that is when T is at his 'What's that?' best. (To think that I was worried about his lack of speech a year ago!). How are they going to to fill a 50 minute show? We'd been to see Peppa Pig earlier in the year and that had been really good but a friend had recently been to see an adaption of another one of Julia Donaldson's books and had been really unimpressed. 

What the Ladybird Heard

I needn't have worried! 'What the Ladybird Heard' is a really charming play which engages the audience from the very beginning of the play. Even before the lights had gone down the actors worked their way through the audience asking if anyone had seen Lanky Len.  This engagement continues throughout the whole play with the audience being encouraged to sing, remind the actors of all the animals in the story and, most importantly, finding the ladybird. 

The way that the animals were portrayed on stage was very clever. I had assumed puppets or costumes but they were actually made from stage props and it was really lovely to see the children get excited as the different animals came together and they realised which animals they were. The set was very true to Lydia Monk's illustrations and there were some lovely touches, with flowers growing around the door of the house and from the flower pots. 

Chelmsford for Families

After finding a 'new' actor to play Lanky Len, making the animals and lots of songs, the story itself only took up 10 minutes of the total running time. However the story was told in the same way as it was in the book. Fidgety children were then back and engaged with the story that they could follow as they do at home. 

It has been a while since I'd been to the Civic Theatre and on booking the tickets worried that I might have been too far from the stage for T to see everything that was going on. The Civic Theatre however has a very intimate feel about it and we would have been able to see the action from any of the seats. There were also plenty of booster seats available for children. 'Hugless Dougless', another well read book in this house, is on in October at the Civic Theatre and we will be going to see that too!

If your children (or you!) like 'What The Ladybird Heard' I would definitely recommend this play. It is the perfect length  for children and the actors work hard to keep them engaged throughout. 

'What The Ladybird Heard is' currently touring the country and will be in Southend in September.