Nestled in the grounds of Southampton University, you will find the Nuffield Theatre, and it’s where I found myself today, trying (for quite some time) to find a place to park with two over excited children. Today we saw the first performance of Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play.
To fans of this popular television programme, Charlie and Lola hardly need any introduction, but for the uninitiated, Charlie has this little sister, Lola, who is small, and very funny… But will Charlie ever get Lola to sleep, even though she is not sleepy and will not go to bed? It won’t be easy – the Tigers want their bedtime milk, the Dancing Dogs have borrowed Lola’s pyjamas and Lola thinks there is an ogre hiding in the wardrobe!
But how do you bring an animated television programme to life for an audience of the toughest critics going, a auditorium full of children? By the use of very clever 2D puppets, excellent puppeteers and a fantastic set with all the texture and fantasy sequences you have come to know and love from the original programme. The puppeteers work the 2d puppets of Charlie, Lola and the supporting cast with all of the nuance and movements you get from the animation, so well in fact, you do tend to forget that the puppeteers are there for a moment, until suddenly they are performers in their own right again, dancing with the scenery for set changes and encouraging the audience to participate.
With falling butterflies, bubbles and disco lights throughout the performance there is plenty to delight your children and you will be left with an enormous sense of well being and a desire to see more children’s theatre at this lovely venue. You can also purchase Charlie and Lola books, toys and swimbags in the foyer, very handy just before Christmas.
The play is suitable for children aged 3+ (although I did risk taking my nearly 2 year old and was delighted that he was engaged by it). You can book tickets through the Nuffield Theatre website www.nuffieldtheatre.co.uk or by calling the box office on 023 8067 1771. Shows will take place at 11 am and 2 pm today, Thursday and Friday and 11 am, 1.30 pm and 4 pm on Saturday 1st November 2014.