Some of you will think that my son is obsessed with Peppa Pig… and you would be right. I still don’t understand the inherent need to watch 50 million episodes in a row at any one time, but hey ho, call me a bad mother, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep him occupied when I need to go and clean my skirting boards or some such nonsense around the house.
Before going to see Peppa Pig’s Big Splash at Wimbledon Theatre, I was a little apprehensive. I’ve never taken him to something like this; was he old enough; would he engage with the characters; would he sit still; would he get it? Then I had a word with myself.
This was hardly Shakespeare and, after checking back with the website, I was relieved to know that the first half was only 35 minutes long, and the second, 25 minutes. I mean how long could they really string it out for?
Monkey was excited and as we arrived he already spotted several children with whirring gizmos that lit up – and the first thought that crossed my mind was this million pound money-making machine was in full flow, right in the heart of SW19.
And everyone was lapping it up. Except me, of course. Because I am a tight arse.
I scooped him up and made sure we passed all the people selling their tempting goods before getting to our seats. Which were in an excellent position – about five rows from the front of the stage. I’d like to add this was by sheer luck – I can’t remember studying the seating plans when booking the tickets.
The theatre was alive with the noise of screaming, excited children. Monkey kept asking when it was going to begin, and when the lights dimmed, and the music began playing, Monkey’s eyes lit up. I’ve never seen his back straighten so quickly.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the production – and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t consist of the full-sized Peppa costumes – as quite frankly, they are a bit creepy, but instead they were smaller puppets operated by actors dressed in black.
The narrator, Daisy, introduced all the characters and engaged the young audience to participate in songs and dances. It was loud, bright and went well with the simplicity of the story which in essence comes from the episode titled ‘The Children’s Fete’. Which if like me, you’ve had to sit though several series, you’ll know. If you don’t, it’s all about a leaky roof and those pesky kids trying to raise money to fix it by organising a fete. The ‘Big Splash’ element comes from Daddy Pig entering a muddy puddle competition at the end, which culminates in jets spraying out water into the audience.
This had Monkey squealing in delight. And I was pleasantly surprised how much he interacted with the show – clapping, swaying along to the music, shouting out along with all the other children. He even got up on his seat to join in with the dancing at one point.
From about five minutes to the end, though, he began to get very restless, but I have feeling this has something more to do with his hunger pangs – as, in the Italian later on, he wolfed down a bowl of spaghetti, Peppa’s favourite of course…
It was a fairly pleasant way to spend the afternoon. The show was fun, and simple to understand – and for young children, a good introduction to live performances. Three years ago, this would have been my idea of hell – being trapped in a large room with screaming kids. Who am I kidding – it still is! But what was mesmerising, wasn’t the stuff on stage, it was watching Monkey becoming a little boy, a little person in his own right – and that in itself was a worthy of a production at the National Theatre – well in my eyes any way.
Perhaps next time I might brave panto…