Millennial Dad Review: Penguin Elephant theatre production.

Last weekend was what my daughter affectionately calls a “daddy day”. She has “mummy days”, too. We also try to have “mummy and daddy days”, but since my wife is working every spare hour to do a part-time MA those days are rarer. NOTE: the plight of the millennial generation is to try to do it all, and the millennial mother is the most ambitious of all women.

Earlier in the week I planned ahead (out of character action #1) and booked a couple of tickets to a children’s show at my local theatre. So on Sunday I had a clear plan of something to do.

The performance was called Penguin Elephant by Goblin Theatre. It featured a relatively simple stage and two characters, one a penguin and the other an elephant. Other than the penguin being dressed up in black and white and the elephant in grey, there was no costume or puppetry. Oh, and the only words either of them utter for the whole hour is “penguin” and “elephant”.

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At the start I was worried the simplicity of the show wouldn’t be enough to keep Amalia entertained. It was billed for 3+ which fits her age. By the end of the hour she had been enthralled throughout.

Here’s the basic premise (with apologies to the theatre company if I misinterpret anything):

Penguin lives alone in a tidy house and like things “just so”. Penguin takes a great deal of pride in her house. She harbours a secret desire to fly. She also loves fish fingers. One day, elephant arrives looking for a place to live. Excited by Penguin’s home, Elephant moves in against the owner’s wishes. Elephant is messy and quickly shakes things up. Penguin is upset and tries to get Elephant to leave. They chase each other and trick each other, until it all gets out of hand. Eventually, Penguin succeeds in getting rid of Elephant, who now has no place to go. Penguin is sad and hungry because her fish fingers are gone. Elephant finds her way back in and cooks for Penguin. They have another falling out. Then they help to tidy the house together and discover they like each other. Elephant takes Penguin for a ride in her luggage, which is conveniently stacked with helium balloons. They live happily ever after.

In essence, Penguin Elephant is a short play about differences and how people overcome them. It’s not a bad lesson to teach our kids, although I don’t know how much they will take in. The actors are engaging and energetic, and both fulfil their character traits well.

It’s a shame there weren’t more people in the audience on our visit. However, it allowed us to sit at the very front. This actually proved not to be a good move. When Elephant first arrived on stage with a huge luggage box, she looked to the audience for someone to help. I was sat on the end of the front row. As she held out her hand to me, I felt just enough reluctance but then resigned myself that it was going to happen whether I liked it or not and I got on stage (out of character action #2). On the plus side, it was great to see A’a face as her “silly daddy” went up on stage to help Elephant.

Overall, an enjoyable play. Note to self: I must make more effort to book for these kinds of things in future. There are loads of touring theatre companies out there and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Theatre company info and tour dates: http://goblintheatre.co.uk/penguin-elephant.html

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