The intimate environment of the Burton Taylor studio, where you are never more than about a metre and a half from the action, can sometimes be a little overwhelming for shy kids like mine. But as Kayla, Cassandra Hercules' infectious bounciness (along with some reassuring questioning) put them at ease from the start. From there on in, it was all eyes glued to the action!
The story is a simple but exciting ‘night time adventure’ in the style of classics such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Snowman. Traversing desert, jungle, ocean and ice, we follow Kayla on her journey to find her mum and hopefully get her three Christmas wishes come true into the bargain.
It is a compelling romp held together by three basic ingredients - Hercules’ boundless energy, Smoking Apples’ glorious puppets and the comic delivery of sidekick Michael Ansley, playing the animals Kayla meets along the way. The sequined crocodile, forgetful Geordie albatross and Eeyore-ish grumpy Bristolian reindeer were our favourites. The stage set was also very impressive and stylish, with revolving backdrops, great lighting, and giant albatross wings that swooped down to fill the stage.
Some nice emotional life skills are gently imparted along the way, with the power of love, kindness and friendship the core message. Good, wholesome stuff, but also lots of fun, with plenty of opportunity (but no pressure!) for participation, from singing, actions and dancing. And without wanting to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, it was refreshing to see a kids’ production without a hint of cynicism or sarcasm! My two - aged five and eight, and not always easy to please - were riveted throughout. Joyful and endearing - recommended!