When Sam visited a zoo with his parents, he signed a form to adopt an elephant. Little did he know that the small print meant the elephant would actually come and live with him. Imagine his surprise when a giant, blue elephant arrives on his doorstep!
The Slightly Annoying Elephant is based on the best selling book by David Walliams and is brought to life by Little Angel Theatre, who specialise in puppetry for young audiences. It is aimed at children aged 3-8 years old.
There is no denying how skilled this theatre company are at puppetry. The enormous blue elephant puppet itself is spectacular, and when it first appears on stage, the collective gasp of the audience’s children proves that it works a treat. They are transfixed every minute that the elephant is on stage.
Alex Bloomer is in charge of the puppet, and is superb at creating a large, bumbling elephant who is actually quite likeable, despite his annoying habits of destroying the house and watching antiques programmes on telly. His deep, booming voice is perfect for vocalising the Slightly Annoying Elephant’s famous catchphrase, “Silly Boy!“. An echo sound effect is also added for maximum impact.
As one would expect, there is plenty of comedy in the play, as the large elephant makes himself at home. A scene where he goes to the toilet went down well with the audience, with sound design being brilliantly utilised again. The children howl with laughter as fart and poo noises emanate from the bathroom. Kids love toilet humour and with this scene, Little Angel Theatre have hit the jackpot. The elephant returns without his body, claiming that he lost a tonne of weight in the bathroom.
Sadly, this leaves the puppet consisting of just a head and feet for most of the remainder of the show. These scenes don’t have the impact of the ones where the entire elephant is present. At one point, the puppetry consists of just the elephant trunk, whilst Sam has to make his guest dinner.
The elephant also spends a lot of time off stage, which is slightly disappointing. Although the tickets are only £7.50 each for children, which is a lot cheaper than the price of a standard ticket at mainstream theatre productions, a family visit can be quite costly to justify the full puppet being absent a lot. Let’s face it – The kids are there to see the elephant.
Heidi Goldsmith provides an accomplished performance as Sam, singing the catchy musical numbers well, and bursts with energy, a remarkable feat for a show staged at 10:30 in the morning. A scene where Sam and the elephant work out, complete with sweatbands, certainly gave me a new respect for children’s theatre performers for managing to be that energetic at such an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning!
Overall, The Slightly Annoying Elephant is an entertaining treat for a young audience. At 50 minutes long, it is the perfect length to keep them occupied. It features excellent puppetry and brilliant sound design. I have to stress that I am not the target audience for this show, nor do I have children. I enjoyed it nonetheless!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The Slightly Annoying Elephant runs at HOME, Manchester until 29th December. You can find ticket information on HOME’s website.