Based upon the picture books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, Oi Frog and Friends brings the various species of pupil at Sittingbottom School for Animals to rhyming life in this delightful and charming piece of children’s theatre.
Created for the stage by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes, this family musical extravaganza has much for preschoolers and above and their parents to enjoy, and even solo reviewers delving into their family-friendly souls.
We first meet Cat, who is a purrrfect prefect, managing the book of rules that dictates mules sit on stools, hares sit on chairs, and so on. When Frog joins the school as the new boy, he finds sitting on a log isn’t quite for him, and this is where the problems begin.
With vibrant performances, clever and inventive puppetry, catchy songs, and a lot of audience participation to keep children interested as well as getting them to embrace new words, Oi Frog is a hit from the first scene, with in-jokes for adults including spoof ads and a Meerkat TV reporter which reminds you of Kermit’s stint behind the roving mike on Sesame Street.
As characters as diverse as a fox, an ostrich, a whale, a gnu, and a partying cheetah, Simon Yadoo displays a diverse set of voices and characters in the cast. John Winchester works hard to give a voice, a personality and an infectious laugh to the power-hungry Frog, plagued by rhyme all the time.
As Cat, Lucy Tuck is suitably supercilious and even recounts her days in the Stunt Cat TV show, where she risks her nine lives. She is determined to make her final life count by climbing to defeat the megalomaniac Frog, navigating a lot of scatalogical jokes about smells, farts and bottoms along the way.
The moral of this riotous tale: not all animals have a rhyme and in the end, just sit where you like! A gloriously colourful tale, with genuinely creative props, costume and choreography, and a sense of fun and camaderie with a young audience, Oi Frog should form an essential part of your family Christmas.
Oi Frog and Friends is directed by Emma Earle, with songs composed by Luke Bateman and written by Richy Hughes. It continues at the Lyric Theatre until 5 January (except for 25-26 December and 1 January) in morning performances. Book tickets at the Nimax website.
It will also enjoy a short run from 11-12 February at The Beck Theatre in Hayes.
Photo credits – Pamela Raith.
LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see Oi Frog and Friends.