Below is a photo of my five-year-old, so far off the edge of his seat that he’s standing. What’s got him so hooked?
He was watching Up and Down, a Ga Ga Theatre Company children’s theatre show based on Oliver Jeffers’ picture book.
Jed was totally caught up in the action on stage, and he was far from the only one.
Throughout this sweet family show much of the under 5s crowd were standing, waving, jumping and besides themselves with excitement as they yelled out stuff like ‘look behind you!’ or ‘watch out’!
Up and Down is highly interactive, but not in that cringe-worthy way where you groan inwardly as the cast comes bounding into the audience.
The two-strong cast of Boy and Penguin are so immediately likeable and engaging that you feel quite happy to be carried along with whatever shenanigans they get up to. This includes clapping and stomping to live music, bopping up and down in your seat, and being submerged in colour as a parachute floats over the audience.
Key parts of the story are brought to life beautifully using animated pages from the picture book projected onto the big screen.
So what’s it all about?
Briefly, it’s a very simple tale about a boy and his penguin pal who wants to fly. But fans of Oliver Jeffers can attest to the fact that there’s much more to each of his books than the basic premise — and you can say the same about this show.
Up and Down takes you on a mini adventure of imagination and longing and courage and, best of all, friendship.
We watch the characters’ frustrating and often very funny attempts to get the penguin off the ground. Tension builds, and feathers do get ruffled, but it’s a happy ending for this warm-hearted tale.
Ga Ga Theatre’s production is perfectly pitched for children as young as 6 months, as it’s easy to follow, filled with gentle music and humour, and lasts just 40 minutes.
At 8, Ezra is not quite the target audience but he was definitely enjoying himself, giggling a lot especially when the boy and penguin had ‘power lifting’ contests. However he recommended that Jed should write the review.
Here’s what the little one had to say:
Jed’s Review (age 5)
‘I like when the balloons came up. I liked when the penguin tried to fly in the cannonball. My best part was the bit when she was falling from the sky but I was also worried. The penguin was my favourite character. Actually both!’
Up and Down is suitable for all, best recommended for ages 0-5. The show is currently playing at Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Rd, N2 9PJ (East Finchley tube) from 10.30am (Tue-Fri), 10am & 11.30am (Sat-Sun), £12/under 2s FREE (May 27-Jun 1). Up and Down is also touring to Richmond Curzon (Jun 3-5) and Chelsea Curzon (Jun 6-8). Book tickets at www.gagatheatreco.co.uk/booktickets
Disclosure: We are working with Ga Ga Theatre Company as a client of Mothers & Shakers. All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own.