There’s a rock concert atmosphere at In the Night Garden Live, now playing in a massive bubble tent (the show-dome) in Brent Cross stadium car park. Of course the show’s aimed at a pre-school audience, using animated projections on the ceiling rather than strobe lighting and bubble blasts rather than smoke machines.
But on Saturday afternoon’s performance, the anticipation was at fever pitch. When Makka Pakka, Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy appeared on stage, all you could hear was kids losing it, literally going bananas like fans at a Rolling Stones gig.
I spent almost as much time watching the look of wonder on my 2-year-old’s face as I did the antics on stage. The actors in costume were so lifelike that my canny 5-year-old turned to me and whispered, ‘That’s the real Makka Pakka, isn’t it, Mummy? It’s not just somebody dressed up!’
The production is beautifully pitched for ages 1 to 3 (although my eldest was equally hooked), drawing on elements that make the TV show so appealing: bright colours, simple plot, gentle narration and a lulling soundtrack.
There’s hardly any point trying to analyse the strange pull of Night Garden for little ones, it’s just a world that belongs to them. And if you allow yourself to get sucked into the sheer randomness of it all (the main storyline involves Makka Pakka washing everyone’s faces with a runaway sponge), it’s actually funny and quite magical.
The boys were thrilled by the occasional surprises but mostly happy to know what was coming next. ‘It’s not over yet,’ Ezra told me knowingly in the last 5 minutes, ‘there’s going to be a story first.’ Sure enough, the storybook popped up just like on TV.
On top of our review tickets, we were kindly invited to meet the characters afterwards. Jed got to give Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy high fives and a group hug. A dream come true.
In the Night Garden Live is playing at Brent Cross Shopping Centre (Hendon Central tube) until Sep 24. Catch the Pinky Ponk Show or the Ninky Nonk Show daily (Wed-Sat) at 9.30am, 11.15am, 1pm, 3.15pm & 5pm; ticket prices from £12.50-£22.50. Meet the Characters £15 per family.