Five Children and It review – Theatre at the Tabard

Simon Thomsett reviews Five Children and It

Christmas theatre production for families from Theatre at the Tabard

There’s a breath of festive fresh air at the Theatre at the Tabard this Christmas with their seasonal offering, a new version of E Nesbitt’s much loved classic tale, Five Children and It.

Louise Haddington’s lively adaptation focuses on the essentials of the story and takes us back to an inventively imagined Edwardian setting somewhere by the seaside where the discovery by the children of a Psammead (sand fairy to you and me) that can grant wishes leads to a series of adventures.

Once again, the Tabard have assembled a talented and hugely likeable cast.  As the children, Sam Lightfoot-Loftus, Lucia Jade Barker, Lucy Mai Heathcote and Ben Prout (as the rather dippy younger brother) make a convincing family ensemble and embody a child-like appetite for adventure.

Image above: The children find they have some explaining to do, to a policeman

Most importantly, they connect with the younger audience members to just the right level to keep them eagerly engaged.  Lizzie Treece confidently keeps order as the Mother and switches effortlessly to reappear as a put-upon market stall holder.

The Psammead itself, a puppet operated by the brilliant Adam Boyle, is an ancient, wise and not altogether patient mixture of teddy bear and gremlin and steals the scenes he is in.

Director Simon Reilly keeps the action zipping along, makes the most of some colourful lighting effects and clever use of sound and has bucketfuls of wit and invention.

The real test for a family show such as this is how the children in the audience react and they were clearly having a whale of a time. Chiswick parents who are looking to keep their young ones happy and away from a screen will no doubt be grateful for this upbeat and big-hearted show. Five Children and It runs until 31 December and is thoroughly recommended for children of all ages.

Image above: Sam Lightfoot-Loftus, Lucia Jade Barker, Lucy Mai Heathcote and Ben Prout 

Five Children and It is on until 31 December in the small studio theatre above the Tabard pub in Bath Rd W4 (just around the corner from Turnham Green tube station).

Book tickets through Theatre at the Tabard’s website.

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