Beasty Baby - theatre review


- Credit: Archant

Beasty Baby - Polka Theatre, 14 October 2015 to 3 January 2016

As Christmas shows go, Beasty Baby is certainly different. Ostensibly aimed at three to six-year-olds, this clever show from Theatre-Rites is, in fact a production that can be enjoyed on many levels and at any age. It moves with a gentle humour that offers a calm alternative to the bright, flashy festive offerings that the larger theatres tend to focus on at this time of year.

Actors and puppeteers Sian Kidd, John Leader and John Pfumojena are about to welcome a new baby into their house, along with all the accompanying mayhem and frenzy. And what a cute baby it is, in the form of a life-sized soft puppet in an all-encompassing, bear-shaped onesie.

At first, the ‘baby’ is a newborn bundle of cute cuddliness, whose only ‘downside’ is a refusal to sleep and eat tidily. As the ‘grizzly baby’ grows larger and finds its voice (artfully provided by Sian Kidd), the mayhem increases, as nappies, bedtime and playing fair become ways to assert its mischievous personality, explaining the play’s increasingly apt title.

Artistic Director, Sue Buckmaster found her inspiration for Beasty baby from observing her own two daughters. She wanted to create a show that celebrated family life and the rituals associated with growing up. She certainly succeeded. My two sons delighted in asking me at regular intervals whether they had done the same things as babies, and they giggled in pure pleasure when I replied that they most certainly had.

Highlights included several pleasant a cappella lullabies and a impressive set transformation, from inside the family’s cosy woodland home to a vast snow scene, complete with falling snow, that looked custom-made for an exciting sleigh-ride across the fields.

This show is a hidden gem, providing out-and-out belly laughs for the youngest members of the audience and happy, nostalgic reminiscences of early parenthood for their accompanying adults. It is beautifully gentle, highly memorable and a must-see for the whole family this festive season.

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Beasty Baby is aimed at 3 to 6 year olds. Running time approx. 50 minutes. Tickets cost £12.50 (£1.50 transaction charge per booking) and can be booked via Polka Theatre’s Box Office on 020 8543 4888.