Theatre Review: THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD – The Lowry, Salford

Combining magical storytelling with music and audience participation, THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD is just what theatre for children should be – engaging and beautiful

4 out of 5 stars

Children, parents, guardians and grandparents alike all piled into the Quays Theatre for THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD at The Lowry. 

Based on the bestselling sequel to the smash-hit picture book THE GRUFFALO, THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD follows the adventures of said youngster who sets foot in the deep dark wood. Disobeying her father’s warnings about the Big Bad Mouse, the Gruffalo’s Child tiptoes out into the snow. She follows snowy tracks and meets some mysterious creatures who guide her on the way to find the Big Bad Mouse – but does he really exist?

Performed by Tall Stories, this stage adaptation of the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is just what theatre for children should be – engaging and beautiful, proving that at a young age, theatre isn’t a boring pastime of the older generation but an accessible piece of entertainment for every generation to enjoy.

After a slow start, the production picks up the pace when the songs and audience interaction kicks in. The music is catchy enough to have you singing all evening and there’s just the right amount of spookiness for the intended age group. The dancing and movement of roving trees create a beautiful silhouette of a dark forest and the children pick up the songs and actions quickly, making this a performance guaranteed to exceed expectations. There are also a few nods to the adults in the audience, adding to the wonder from the magical storytelling without spoiling the enjoyment of the little ones.

The three performers work the stage and audience well including Manchester’s own Althea Burey as The Gruffalo’s Child, Emily Essery as The Mouse/Narrator and Dominic Gee Burch as The Gruffalo/mysterious creatures. Gee Burch’s characterisation, in particular, is stunning, the actor switching between the creatures with ease and adding the nod for the adults.

First adapted by the team in 2006, THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD has had plenty of time to bed in and adapt to audience expectations. The production forms part of Tall Stories 21st anniversary which showcases the production’s new set and costumes, direct from a smash-hit West End run.

With songs, laughs and spooky fun for everyone aged 3 to 93, be prepared to interact and lose yourself in the imaginative world of THE GRUFFALO for an hour.

THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD runs at The Lowry, Salford until 12 January 2019.