The Gruffalo is one of the most popular children’s stories of modern times.
You might be thinking: “A gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?”
Ask any child of primary school age or younger and you are sure to find an answer. Watch as their eyes light up, they assume a scary pose and reply: “Why didn’t you know…?
Julia Donaldson’s rhyming fable tells of a tiny mouse who wanders through a deep, dark wood in search of nuts. En route the mouse encounters three hungry animals – a fox, an owl and a snake. The quick-thinking rodent frightens off its predators by telling them of the terrifying beast that it’s going to meet – the gruffalo. To the mouse’s amazement it eventually crosses paths with the imaginary beast, who fancies the mouse on a piece of toast.
In 2001 the clever tale was brought to life by Tall Stories Theatre Company. Since then it has travelled everywhere from Australia to Alaska. This year the show is on at the Garrick Theatre – the production’s third West End season.
The theatre was packed out with excited youngsters and their no-less excited adult companions. My little ones watched in awe as one of their favourite stories was retold on stage.
Those of you familiar with the story may be wondering how it could possibly work as a full-length children’s show. Tall Stories have stayed faithful to Donaldson’s story, but added in some extra narration, a few catchy tunes and a dash of audience participation.
The kids loved it – especially my two-year-old who had never been to the theatre before. He bounced up and down in his seat and relished the opportunity to show the on-stage animals how loudly he could roar.