It was my pleasure to attend Dear Zoo at the
The colours were bright, eye-catching, and the whole set was very nicely achieved and faithful to the classic lift-the-flap book which inspired this show. The boxes which were repeatedly delivered to the children by the zoo, were very visually faithful to the book, being enormous, usually yellow “wooden” crates, with the creatures emerging from said boxes coming in a variety of forms. Some, like the elephant and giraffe, were huge two-dimensional card creations popping up and out of the box, reminiscent of the book itself. Later they became three-dimensional, with a huge snake the size of a boa constrictor rising out of its basket thanks to a puppeteer hidden beneath, and lastly they became fully animated in the form of human actors in full costume, in the case of the monkey and the frog, who cavorted on stage most elegantly.
The team behind this production pitched it very well to the youngest in the audience, and my three year old, who is usually a little quiet in audience participation sections, was shouting and joining in with the rest enthusiastically in welcoming animals to the stage, bidding them farewell as they were wheeled off, dancing and joining in the songs that each creature treated us to, as well as shouting out guesses as to the animal in the next box. The audience interaction was almost non-stop throughout the performance in fact, and the little ones took to it with gusto. Many clearly were more comfortable doing so thanks to familiarity with the book, but I think the repeating format of the zoo’s deliveries of animals also helped a great deal in this regard, giving a straightforward structure to help them engage easily.
A simple, effective delight, in summary. Many laughs were had, a couple of tiny ones were a little scared by the very convincing lion, but the actors did reassure us that he was a friendly lion who only ate naughty people. My seven year old also enjoyed it a great deal, though I would say it is pitched just a little younger. Who doesn’t love animals at age seven though? She was impressed with the set and the puppets, as was I, and we all had a rollickingly good time.