Is there room on the broom for a grumpy old mum like me? Probably not, because the eponymous broom from Julia Donaldson’s classic children’s book – recently on stage at The Floral Pavilion in New Brighton –
is overcrowded with not only the assorted wildlife that the author intended, but with miscellaneous dialogue and extraneous sub-plot.
It’s an inevitable trap really. The book is perfection in a nutshell. A ten-minute long nutshell. There’s a witch who generously takes aboard her broom a handful of stray animals who do her a good turn, who, in their turn, rescue her from a dragon who wants “witch and chips” for his tea. The rhymes are tight, the length just right.
Then along comes a theatre company who needs to stretch the plot to around 55 minutes in order to justify the £11 a ticket they’re charging and the tight, right sweet nut of a story becomes an amorphous, flabby endurance-fest that stretches the attention span of your average threenager and the patience of their handlers.
Theatre for pre-schoolers needs to be small, intimate and interactive, majoring on the visual, not the verbal. Taking a much-loved tale and inflating it with unnecessary verbiage and out- of -character development seems exactly the wrong thing to do.
Okay, so that is super-grumpy and here’s what Tall Stories’ production did well: It gave good puppetry. The addition of the dog, bird and frog puppets lent the production some visual charm in an otherwise disappointingly earthbound flight of fancy.
The frog’s bluegrass banjo twangy thang of a song, and the Iggety Ziggety Zaggety Zoom finale stopped the close-to- rampaging kids in their tracks and got them dancing in the aisles, which made a refreshing change from them jumping down the steps of the auditorium.
All in all, though, the three year old and I found it overlong and overblown.
Room on the Broom
New Brighton Floral Pavilion
September 2 – September 3
Director: Olivia Jacobs
Cast Includes: Yvette Clutterbuck, Dan Foxsmith, David Garrud, Emma McClennan, Luke McConnell
PR Rating: ** Disappointing