It’s a simple idea, but one that really appeals to kids. Hanging around in the house with Mummy, an ordinary afternoon becomes quite extraordinary when the knock at the door turns out to be a hungry tiger looking for some food to eat…
‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ by Judith Kerr has been a part of our bookshelf since we started reading to Seb (pretty much as soon as he arrived in the world!). As a story it has everything to appeal to kids really – a mischievious tiger that eats all the food and drinks everything in the house, and then an exciting outing to get sausages, chips and ice cream…in the car…after bedtime! It’s a fairly simple storyline, but it really does work – in the pages of a book anyway.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when it came to the stage version, adapted and directed by David Wood. Obviously, you can’t have a real tiger (I hoped, anyway), and how do you make such vast quantities of food and drink disappear convincingly?
As it turns out, it’s all done rather well. All three kids loved waiting to see what happened, and because they knew the story they weren’t too worried about the idea of a tiger being in the same room – as D said, ‘it’s only a friendly one Mummy’. Even Little B (who is younger than the recommended age of 3 anyway) was happy to watch for most of the performance. Once the Tiger left the stage she did get a bit restless, but soon became interested again when it was time for the ‘car journey’ – cleverly done using the table and chairs, some great lighting effects, and excellent facial expressions! In fact, D said the car journey was her favourite thing – I think because it was probably the most dramatised bit of the show.
Seb loved the disappearing food best – the props were very clever and I spent quite some time marvelling over how effectively it was done.
Little B was completely intrigued by the Tiger, and whilst I was a bit disappointed he was actually mute – he communicated using miming rather than speaking in the growly tigery voice I was kind of expecting – it was obvious that the kids weren’t perturbed by that at all. They loved watching him rub his tummy and watching Sophie and her Mummy trying to figure out what the Tiger wanted. In fact all the cast members were really believable and brought the story to life perfectly.
There was a bit of audience participation which was welcome, especially as the majority of it came at the end, just as the fidgeting was about to kick off. The ‘Yummy Sausages Song’ was enjoyed so much that D is still singing it now!
I think it works best as a show for children who already know the story, as it could be a little scary if they don’t know that he is friendly and it all ends well – but really the majority of children (and adults, who will probably be kept intrigued by figuring out all the food disappearance mechanisms!) will enjoy watching, and most likely secretly hoping that a Tiger will come to tea at their house, too!
The Tiger Who Came To Tea is showing until 10th January at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End – and tickets cost from £14.50.
Disclosure: we were provided with tickets for the show in exchange for an honest review.