Last night our family of five had its first trip to the theatre all together. We've been to panto, we go to the cinema loads but we've never seen a theatre performance together and as my husband and I adore live theatre it was only the perceived cost stopping us. I've investigated seeing a West-end show together before and the cost would be around £250-300 for the five of us in decent seats and that is outside of our affordability.
I'm not sure why but I'd totally bypassed local theatre venues and how stupid have I been? We all headed off to the Devonshire Park theatre in Eastbourne to see Babe the Sheep-Pig Live, a family friendly show produced by the unique children's theatre company Polka and in general we loved it (well four of us loved it and one is a 13 year old boy with a love only for gaming! lol). And the cost for seeing this in a town local to us rather than seeing a west-end show was £81.50 full price in the best seats but in fact a special offer email was sent out a few weeks ago with all seats at £13 for the Thursday and Friday performances, so that's just £65 for five people - what a bargain!
Before I tell you what we loved about it, why don't you have a quick peek and see for yourself what the show is about -
It looks good, right? and it really is as good as those snippets make out.
The Story line
If you're not familiar with the story line, basically Farmer Hogget wins a pig at the country fayre by guessing its weight. Mrs Hogget is over the moon and starts to plan all the ways she will fatten the pig up and have a lovely feats at Christmas but low and behold the pig (called Babe) starts to earn everyone's affections by being polite, cute and very lovable.
Fly the farmers sheepdog takes a liking to Babe and steps in as his surrogate mother and whilst she and the farmer train up her own pups to be sheepdog Babe joins in and learns all the skills of the dogs whilst also remaining polite and humble. It is these simple skills that earn the favour of the sheep and mean he becomes a fabulous sheep-pig and I'll let you watch the rest for yourself.
So what did we love about it?
All sorts of things and it made me smile that we all had difference perspectives. JJ as I've already mentioned wasn't too enamoured with the whole thing but he is a teenager. He felt it was a little babyish for him and the story line wasn't meaty enough but to be honest the story is what it is, as this show is based on the prize-winning children's book by Dick King-Smith. Our family hadn't read the book nor seen the blockbuster movie that was released back in the 1990's but the girls and my husband and I are now planning to do so this weekend as it looks fun.
My 9 year old twin girls were the ones who enjoyed it the most and I suppose that is to be expected. I think primary school aged children are the perfect audience and there is nothing in the show that would concern me for their age. I suspect pre-schoolers would also enjoy it but a word of warning, there is one scene that may scare them when Mam the old sheep is killed by a wild dog. It is super well done though and the puppetry in that scene is awe-inspiring.
Talking of the puppetry, that is the bit I liked most. It is so clever and diverse and it appears that all of the cast of eight are able to operate the puppets with the same kind of skill and effortless motion. Babe the pig is of course a puppet but you also have Mam the sheep, 3 cute little ducks, Fly, the sheepdogs three pups, a clever wiley cat and the wild dog. Each is a different kind of puppet requiring varying skills and the actors even manage to pass the puppets over to each other as part of the story line and keep them lifelike and animated.
My husband has said he'd quite like to see the show again as the music and songs used in it are very catchy and he is a great fan of musicals but normally needs to see them two or three times to get the most out of a production. we both commented on what a group of skilled performers and puppeteers the cast are. Truly all five of us left the theatre last night humming the songs and the kids were singing, even JJ who was making up his own version!
My girls particularly liked being able to be involved with the show too and the scene where Fly, the sheep dog gets the audience to help Babe remember a password is very good and engaging.
In all this is a really unique show that will capture you and at 1 hour and 45 minutes for the whole thing, including a 20 minute interval it is a perfect first introduction to live theatre for any child.
Thanks so much to Babe the Sheep-pig Live for having us as your guests, we had a super time!
Why not check out other reviews of the same show but at different theatre venues around he UK too - What the Redhead Said
Disclosure: Our family received these tickets free of charge for the purpose of this review but have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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