Today we were all treated to some wonderful children’s theatre at Sterts Theatre near Liskeard. We thought The Smartest Giant In Town would be great for my nephew, Jack, but the lively and funny performance that the cast of Folksy Theatre gave meant that mum, my sister and I were thoroughly entertained as well.
The performance was at 2pm so we arrived early so that we had time for a picnic. We were lucky to find a picnic table which was ideal because the grass was a bit damp. Our picnic was full of ‘party food’ like pork pies and scotch eggs – perfect for a pre-children’s theatre feast! For pudding, we bought some Callestick Farm ice creams from the stall near the theatre tent (they were also selling pasties, sausage rolls, hot drinks, lollies, sweets etc.).
People began queuing up for the theatre tent early so we followed suit and went in to find some good seats. We chose seats next to the aisle in case my nephew started crying and we needed to get out quickly! Whilst we were waiting for the performance to start, one of the actors strolled around the stage and grinned manically at all the kids, who giggled and smiled back.
The play, based on the story written by Julia Donaldson (who also wrote The Gruffalo) opened with a jolly saxophone melody, played by the female actor. There were three actors in total, two males and one female. They burst onto the stage, singing energetically to the music. Unfortunately, the music was a bit loud and it was difficult to hear the words they were singing – however, this seemed to be resolved as the play went on.
In the story, the giant is upset that he always looks scruffy so he tries to find some smart clothes to wear. He purchases a shirt, trousers, a tie and smart shoes and feels amazing; like the smartest giant in town. However, the animals he meets on his travels all need his help, and he ends up donating items of clothing to help them.
The actors from Folksy Theatre used puppets to create the characters from the story which was both comical and engaging; I was sure that my 20 month old nephew would become restless but he was transfixed throughout the whole one hour duration of the play. The saxophone featured again throughout, as well as a flute and a guitar, and the actors sang a repetitive and catchy song, teaching the audience actions to go along with it. Part of this was to jump up, which I think is a great way of keeping kids engaged as the movement helps to stop them from becoming restless.
To keep the children’s attention, the actors frequently ran up and down the steps and even made the puppets interact with some of the audience members. My favourite part of this was when the seagull puppet stole sweets and chocolates from people’s bags (they were returned later!) At one point, we all got squirted with a water pistol, to help us imagine the scene that takes place in the sea.
I think the adults enjoyed it as much as the children; there was certainly a lot of laughter and I particularly liked the way the performers applied different accents to different characters.
I would recommend this performance to families with children of all ages. I think the actors did well to project their voices over the top of the laughter, screams, shouts and occasional crying and they definitely kept their audience entertained throughout. A fun and engaging performance from Folksy Theatre.