Review: Zog (Rose Theatre, Kingston)

Following on from Julia Donaldson’s What The Ladybird Heard, which is playing at the Palace Theatre in the West End, and the popular perennial The Gruffalo, another of her books reaches the London stage in Zog.

Trying to gain acceptance and a gold star at Madam D’s dragon school, Zog finds it hard to fly, roar, breathe fire and generally behave as a young dragon should. He’s keen, but something is holding him back.

In this heartwarming musical, a friendly frog, a couple of gossipy rabbits, and a sneaky squirrel watch as Zog and his friends try to set themselves up for their intended futures.

Colourful costumes and set (by Katie Sykes, lit by Ric Mountjoy), enthusiastic performances, and catchy songs (by Joe Stilgoe) keep little ones entertained – the cast coped valiantly with a particularly lively and loud audience yesterday afternoon. Emma Kilbey directs with a firm yet fun hand with the legendary Lyndie Wright’s puppets stealing the show when they are on stage.

Zog - live on stage

With a mix of eager performances from the five person cast, and excellent puppet work, with carefully placed moments of audience interaction, Zog is a show which definitely does the book justice. We are in fairytale land here , with a princess, a crusading knight (Sir Gadabout The Great, no less), and a decent dose of dragon rivalry.

Freckle Productions have created a show which has a recognisable moral (try, try, and try again) and a likeable central character, played by Billy Mahoney. Zog’s classmates are played by Danielle Whittaker and Benedict Hastings (who is also fun as Gadabout), and Madam D by Asha Cornelia Cluer. The Princess, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, is played by Lois Glenister.

Zog is a fifty-five minute piece of puppets, prancing, and performance which is delightful from the first moment. Musical director Paul Herbert brings the songs to life as they are weaved through the show. Children are kept engaged at all points, with action, tonguetwisters, and reactions striongly encouraged.

The cast of Zog Live

Running at the Rose Theatre in Kingston until 11 August (daytime performances only), Zog transfers to the Oldham Coliseum from 12-14 August, Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, from 18-29 August, and Cambridge Corn Exchange from 31 August-1 September. You can book your tickets ro any of these venues at https://www.zoglive.com/zog/.

A sequel to this show from the same company, Zog and the Flying Soctors will open later in the year.

Image credit: Mark Senior

LouReviews received complimentary tickets to review Zog.

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