Pros: It will bring a smile to your face.
Cons: Beware of the scary wolf!
As shocking as it may sound, I had never watched the movie, nor did I know what the story is about. After walking into the theatre, which is one of the few theatres in the UK dedicated exclusively to a young audience, and seeing predominantly children, I assumed I was about to witness a production exclusively targeted at kids. Boy, was I wrong!
On entering the auditorium, some of the actors were already on stage. Dressed in fluffy sheep costumes, they were ‘baaaah’-ing and chewing on hay. The stage design cleverly transports you to a care-free farm far away from the business of London; a wooden barn in the background and a sheep pen at the front await the magic that is about to unfold. Madeleine Girling designed the set and the costumes, which are key factors in bringing the production to life – sheep change to turkeys and puppies with the use of a few props! One of the most impressive factors of the production was the use of puppets. Expecting a young actor to portray Babe, I was surprised to see a tiny, pink puppet led on by one of the sheep-costumed actors take centre stage. Max Humphries and Dik Downey master puppets in a way that makes you think that the stage is filled with animals and the incredible puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes lets your imagination do the rest.
There are eight actors that take on the roles of a herd of sheep, Mr and Mrs Hogget, and the trusted sheep dog Fly. The story unfolds as Babe is adopted into Mr Hogget’s family as a potential Christmas meal. Taken under Fly’s wing, Babe discovers a talent for herding and Mrs Hogget is left to look for different ingredients to add to the festive table. The talented Emma Barclay, Nicola Blackman, Thomas Gilbey, Oliver Grant, Claire Greenway, Ben Ingles, Jaqui Sanches and Lucy Thomas sing, dance, make us laugh and cry throughout the show. Buoyed by the sound of the children’s genuine laughter and enjoyment, Babe, the Sheep Pig is an endearing story that pulls on your heartstrings, while entertaining all the family. There is even some fun audience participation that involves the young spectators in the story and allows them to be a part of the show. I must say that, while this production is intended for a younger audience, I left feeling happy after witnessing a tale of friendship and the importance of kindness.
Be prepared to smile for a while and have the closing song stuck in your head after the show – I even busted out in dance on my way to the station – the laughter continues, even after the show is finished!
Adapted by: David Wood
Director: Michael Fentiman
Producer: Tom O’Connel Productions & Limelight Productions
Set and Costume Design: Madeleine Girling
Puppetry Director: Matthew Forbes
Box Office: 020 8543 4888
Booking Link: https://polkatheatre.com/event/babe-the-sheep-pig/
Booking Until: 05 February 2017