I’m going to start this post with a confession. I don’t take my children to the theatre enough. One of the many things Kate and I have in common is that we grew up in families who love watching shows live on stage, so it’s important to us. Unfortunately, opportunities have been few and far between this year.
Luck was on our side though when we were invited to a performance of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon. Equally fortuitously for us, it was in nearby Eastbourne. At the Royal Hippodrome, aptly enough!
Dylan and Xander both loved David Walliams’ book so were delighted when we told them. I was keen to see how Les Petits Theatre Company would approach the production. After all, the storyline requires a pretty bespoke set of characters, locations and props.
For anyone who hasn’t read the book, it focuses on a jungle-dwelling hippo named Sheila who dreams of being the first of her kind on the moon. Only she has a rival, Hercules, who has fame and fortune on his side. Of course, coming from one half of the Little Britain team, it has a healthy dose of toilet humour too!
The show is an hour long with no interval. I think this is an ideal format for children. If performances are too long they can get twitchy and intervals can lose momentum which is a real shame.
The story was brought to life by a brilliantly talented cast and some fantastic puppets. In addition to the two hippos, there are a handful of other exotic animals including porcupines, an ostrich and giraffe. Not forgetting a narcoleptic gorilla too.
As well as this, there were songs and dancing, so the boys paid attention throughout. The scenery played its part too. There were some very creative sequences in which it was constantly moving with the unfolding story.
All of the characters had their own little foibles and the boys clearly picked up on these. I can attest that it was laugh-out-loud funny as I was sat next to family foghorn, Dylan, and my ears are still recovering!
We all really enjoyed the performance. Kate and I sat there with big grins on our faces and, as I mentioned earlier, the boys were very vocal in expressing their amusement! We were lucky enough to be invited backstage afterwards too. It was great to meet the cast and puppets – even though one of the porcupines, Sniff, accused me of doing a poo in the auditorium. I maintain my innocence.
The First Hippo on the Moon is premiering in Eastbourne until 7 January 2017 before embarking on a nationwide tour. We heartily recommend it!
Production photos: The Other Richard.