The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric Theatre
Judith Kerr’s children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea has been captivating young minds for years; thankfully David Wood’s stage adaptation does not let down its legacy. With a set straight out of the brightly illustrated pages of the book, specially written songs and a capable cast of three, this play will delight kids from ages three and up.
Abbey Norman as little Sophie and Jenanne Redman as Mummy were energetic without ever veering into shouty children’s TV territory. Norman, as a woman playing a little girl, suspended audience disbelief with ease. The prolific Matthew Dudley deftly juggles the roles of Daddy, the Milkman, the Postman and the eponymous Tiger. Some very enjoyable physical comedy is employed as clumsy Daddy fails to get his suit jacket on the right way, then dons the tea cosy instead of his hat. The Milkman echoes The Two Ronnies with his list of products: “I got Swiss rolls, sausage rolls, toilet rolls…” The Tiger himself is magnificent looking, bows with a flourish and moves with a walk that’s slinky to the point of camp. His entrance onstage, playing on the pantomimic “he’s behind you!”, elicits the most gleeful response from the young audience. Unlike the book, Tiger can’t talk. This means the children get to interpret his hand gestures for Sophie and Mummy, shouting out, “he’s hungry!”, “he’s thirsty!”
It’s always impressive to behold new ways in which theatre conquers its limitations. A clever illusion means that hungry Tiger appears to devour plates of cookies, the contents of the fridge and a rather large cake in seconds. The set is never changed so the story relies on lighting and props to conjure up new settings like the cafe and a road.
There’s plenty of education laced throughout the show which makes it even more appealing to parents. One recurring theme being that the children are encouraged to count up the numbers on the clock to tell the time before each mealtime. More ambitious still, the cast instigates a three-part canon about “yummy sausages” with the audience (to varying effect).
The 55-minute running time seemed just right: the kids in the audience maintained their interest and energy to the end. Refusing to allow the play to dip after Tiger makes his final exit, the lighting crew crack out revolving, projected stars and the wondering song It’s Different in the Dark. From start to finish, The Tiger Who Came to Tea will certainly keep the little ‘uns enthralled.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea is at the Lyric Theatre until 7th September 2014. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Tiger Who Came to Tea here: