Yesterday we went to Salford Quays for the afternoon, as we’d been invited to watch the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ book, The First Hippo on the Moon, at The Lowry. There have been some great theatre productions inspired by popular children’s books recently and having seen some of the photos from this play I was intrigued to see what Les Petits Theatre Company would do with the characters, costumes and stage design. It didn’t disappoint!
Not to be poo-pooed
If you’ve not read the book, it tells the story of Sheila – an ambitious hippo who dreams of being the first hippo on the moon. But there’s a problem. Her rich nemesis, Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III, also has the same goal. With the support of her friends, Sheila tries to work out how to get into space to beat her rival. Spoiler alert – the solution includes a lot of poop!
As the book is a ten minute or so read, I wondered how they would make the production last an hour. To start with, there was a healthy dose of toilet humour and bottom burp jokes, which had my three-year-old chuckling away. Secondly, there was also good development of the different characters, including the introduction of the wise, but very sleepy, Silver Bob the gorilla.
Hitting the right notes
Music is another way the production manages to keep the pace going and capture the young audience’s attention for an hour. The varied songs and performances made my little boy bop his head and clap his hands throughout. He seemed to be particularly fond of the ‘sad song’ that Sheila sings and it’s one of the main parts of the show he remembers.
I was especially impressed by the clever use of puppets to convey the different animals. They were really well designed and in keeping with the colourful, lively illustrations of Tony Ross. The cast were so skilled at keeping them moving and interacting with the audience. My son didn’t even seem to notice the cast operating the puppets and was transfixed by the characters themselves.
Great for young children
If you’ve not taken your children to the theatre before, you may be wondering whether or not they would manage to sit through a whole performance. My three-year-old had been so full of energy all morning – but as soon as the production started he sat quietly. Apart from the odd little look at me to smile, he was completely mesmerised by what was happening on the stage. He’s woken up this morning still talking about Sheila the hippo – so it was a definite hit.
Want to see The First Hippo on the Moon?
The First Hippo on the Moon is on at The Lowry this weekend. After that, it goes to Swansea, Brighton and finally Billingham. See below for dates and box office details:
- 30 June – 1 July / Swansea Grand Theatre / swansea.gov.uk/swanseagrandtheatre/ Box Office: 01792 475 715
- 4 – 6 July / Theatre Royal Brighton / atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-brighton// Box Office: 0844 871 7650
- 12 – 13 July / Billingham Forum Theatre / forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk// Box Office: 01642 552663