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Review: The Gruffalo at the Sheffield Lyceum Theater – 60 joyous minutes of slapstick, songs and general nonsense UK News

Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler’s picture book about a bold and cunning mouse outwitting would-be predators and conquering his fear of the dark, deep woods, with the help of a fearsome but brainless monster, charmed a generation of young people.

But extending that study in a succinct narrative to a play that held the attention of an infinitely distracted three-year-old for an entire hour seemed like overkill, even for such a global phenomenon.

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Aimee Louise Bevan as Mouse and Aaron Dart as the lead in the Tall Stories adaptation of The Gruffalo at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theater (Picture: Ben Brailsford)

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That’s the task Tall Stories set out to do and – after the usual last-minute diaper changes, trips to the bathroom, bargaining for sweets and soft drinks, and finding spare booster cushions, all part of the pleasure of a trip to the theater with your toddler – it is admirably successful.

Children’s shows shouldn’t be rated on a simple five-star scale. The real test of your little one’s fun is the squirm factor – simply put, the less he squirms, the more he’s enthralled with what’s in front of him.

The Gruffalo was slow to get going, and there was a little adjustment downstairs at first, but once it hit its stride, this merry 60 minutes of slapstick, songs, and general nonsense at least captivated my son – and glued to the spot – by what is a refreshing new take on a well-worn tale.

Aimee Louise Bevan as Mouse and Alastair Chisholm as Owl in Tall Stories’ adaptation of The Gruffalo at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theater (Picture: Ben Brailsford)

All of Donaldson’s words are there – and youngsters are encouraged to shout along with their favorite lines – but it’s laced with some catchy original songs, and performed with plenty of energy and timing by the impressive cast of three: Aimee Louise Bevan, as the mouse; Aaron Dart, as narrator and Gruffalo; and Alastair Chisholm, as the fox, the owl and the snake.

There’s more than an air of panto to the proceedings, with great audience participation, and there’s even an attempt to introduce a bit of education, as in the clever sequence where Owl enlightens us about his friends in flightless feathers.

This imaginative adaptation is probably best suited for kids between the ages of three and five, but there’s enough to keep older siblings entertained, even if they’re too cool to admit it.

Alastair Chisholm as Snake in Tall Stories’ adaptation of The Gruffalo at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theater (Picture: Ben Brailsford)

While it stays true to the heart of the story, it doesn’t stick too slavishly to the book or TV adaptation stylistically, nor too scary for little ones with wild imaginations.

Perhaps the greatest praise is how few murmurs of displeasure from such a notoriously temperamental and hard-to-please audience, and how these were drowned out by them all roaring with relish when challenged. asked to help Mouse.

I should leave the last word to my three-and-a-half-year-old son, who summed it up much better than I ever could, saying, “It’s brilliant, which means brilliant.”

The Gruffalo is at the Lyceum Theater until Friday, May 20. Tickets for this and other children’s shows can be booked at the box office in person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online at

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This notice was published: 2022-05-20 00:10:19

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