Babe, The Sheep-Pig

“Are we really going to see a show about a pig that wants to be a sheepdog?” My 4-year-old asks me. Followed by “What does a sheepdog do Mummy?”

Well, if she doesn’t know that then I guess describing a pig trying to herd sheep may not actually sound that strange!

I am, however, at 37, knowledgeable in the role of a sheepdog and a big fan of the original 1995, Dick King-Smith film, Babe. Therefore, I had quite high expectations of this stage adaptation by David Wood.

As we walk into the theatre we are greeted by 4 sheep on stage, (people in fluffy costumes). And they are just, ‘being sheep’, bleating, chewing & interacting. This is such a lovely touch, my daughter thought it was really funny. Great start!

We begin at the sheepdog trials and then swiftly into a flashback on how we arrived there. Which I’m not sure was necessary, it’s a concept that just wouldn’t be understood by young children and the audience was young, mostly under 10.

So, we meet Farmer Hogget who wins a piglet in a ‘guess the weight’ competition at the local fair. Here enters the star of our show, Babe. Played as a puppet, where at first, I wasn’t sure if the puppeteer would be a little distracting but actually, he was quite brilliant, watching the little pig’s head and eyes continually moving and responding to its surroundings meant you never took your eyes off the little fella.

Babe The Sheep Pig

Babe is taken under the wing of the farmer’s loyal sheepdog Fly and once her pups have gone (a heartfelt moment in the show) Babe asks if she can teach him how to be a ‘Sheep-Pig’. Babe settles on the farm befriending all manner of creatures with his polite & friendly approach. And after a heroic effort to stop ‘Sheep Rustlers,’ he saves himself from the Christmas dinner table by proving his usefulness.

The music is a folk-infused, toe-tapping delight, with some instruments played live by this multi-talented cast. Also dramatic in parts, to add atmosphere and weight to certain darker elements of the story.

We found ourselves easily picking up this little gem and singing along:

“Here’s our Babe, let his heart never fail. He’s a clever lad this pig, with a curly kind of tail”.

An extraordinary adventure continues to unfold for our little pink hero as he finds his much less aggressive approach to sheep herding very successful. But how would he fair at the big show that Farmer Hogget is planning to enter him into, against other sheepdogs and sheep he doesn’t know? Fly, as any protective parent might, ensures he has an edge, in the form of a ‘sheep password’.

The set and staging are very clever, transitioning niftily between the scenes, the costumes wonderful (the brief appearance of a wolf is spectacular) and the mixture of dressed-up people and beautiful puppets for the differing roles works really well.

Babe The Sheep Pig

The story is aimed at young children and the message (there’s always a message), addresses prejudice and rudeness, whilst looking to reinforce self-belief and the importance of kindness.

“This will leave your heart warmed and your soul firmly uplifted for the rest of the day. As this little pig beats all the odds to come out on top”.

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

Alfie White Space Explorer

Round the planets, round the rocket and round the fire. What’s in the rocket ship? So so so off we go! Is what my daughter sings to me when I tell her we are going to see a show about a Space Explorer. I think that means she’s excited?

On arrival we are transported to 1967, the era of the big Space Race. Not important to a 4-year-old, it could have been set in any period of time but to the more advanced in age, this makes sense.

We meet Alfie White, a young boy obsessed with space. Alfie lives with his grandma, in a flat on the 8th floor and is scared of alien invasion. His dad mysteriously disappeared 2 years ago and he’s a bit of a loner. His classmates don’t really share his love for space and all this makes him quite naturally a bit sad. But, he gets by.

What starts with a tall tale gone wrong, turns into a wonderful space-inspired adventure to find Alfie’s dad. And ends up with him actually finding much more; new friendships, a love of singing, dancing & Jazz music and a rekindled relationship with his grandma.

Alfie’s co-pilot for this mission is Meg Harris (the most beautiful girl at school), she ignites a longing in him to find out what happened to his father, so together they set off to look for clues to his whereabouts.

Alfie White Space Explorer

We are whizzed, whirred and rocketed through the story. Spurred on by an old photograph found in Alfie’s grandma’s bedroom, of the mysterious Eddie Dark, who Meg recognises as a Jazz musician. Our pair then land their spaceship at the Jazz club to find important information, they then zoom off (AKA take the bus) to a record shop for more investigation.

The show is incredibly engaging, heartfelt and funny.

The two actors fill the space so well, the dialogue and constant movement are fast-paced and full of energy, holding the attention of my daughter throughout. There really is no time for little minds to wander off, as they do sometimes.

After finding out who his father really is, Alfie is much happier at home and at school. He sings, he dances, he has real friends and is finally comfortable in his own space.

Mission Control: “Thank you for a lovely afternoon”. “Over and out”

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

Blown Away…

We are a family of penguin lovers, in fact, we just had one to stay with us for the summer holidays! We crafted him out of a sock and various pieces of felt, don’t panic.

It was a pre starting-school project for my 4-year-old, so seeing Blown Away, a show based on Rob Biddulph’s 2015 book about the adventures of Penguin Blue and friends, was a no-brainer. And with the additional promise of acrobatics the pre-show excitement levels are high (and that’s just me).

As we wait for the show to start we hear a noise behind us, like quacking, then sure enough 3 penguins waddle past us onto the stage. They immediately proceed to show off their acrobatic skills to the oohs and wows of the little people (and some big people) watching. I overhear one small boy protest that he too can do that move.

Our 3 friends for this adventure are penguin’s Blue, Flo and Jeff. Blue wants to fly, to see beyond their home and so they fly together (albeit unintentionally), on a kite away from the ice and snow. On the way, they pick up Wilbur the (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear called Clive, who, rather fortunately, agrees not to eat them but to come along for the ride instead. We continue on with Clive who ends up in the jungle, where he meets a very cheeky monkey, called, well….Monkey. This is a momentous experience for Clive because he is used to being alone and now suddenly he sees the value and enjoyment of having friends.

Blown Away

As we waddle, dive, jump and swing through the story the acrobatics’ get more impressive, a tightrope walk no less and the accordion (did I mention the accordion?) gets chirpier.

The show is an utter delight, all about adventure and imagination, two of most vital ingredients in the ‘happy childhood’ recipe. It showcases strength, agility, humour, puppetry and wonderfully crafted songs.

“Never throw away a chance for an adventure. Imagination keeps your dreams afloat”. Just one of the lovely choruses we are treated to.

The story draws to a close as despite the excitement of new friends and warmer surroundings, Clive is too hot in the jungle and the penguins miss home. A makeshift boat is hastily thrown together for their homeward journey to the tune of “I want to go home, I miss my Mum, I miss my bed, I miss my ted. I miss the snow; at the end of the day you miss what you know”.

Never has a truer word been spoken by a penguin, an (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear!