Weaving together a host of characters from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best-loved books, Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales takes inspiration from Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze.
With a talented and commitnent cast of three (Joanna Brown, TJ Holmes, Delvene Pitt), direction by Mark Kane, and music/lyrics by Benji Bower, this show has potential but is sold a little short by its episodic style.
A framing story about a lively Muppetesque monkey looking for his mum segues into the old woman (played by the male of the trio) who learns her house is just the right size, the tale of Tiddler the little fish whose tall tales reach the fishermen who catch his friends, and the story of George the giant who swaps kindness for sartorial splendour.
Sadly some sound problems mask the lyrics, and there isn’t quite enough interaction to keep little ones interested. Perhaps a touch more singalong or audience participation might lift this just a little. The story of Monkey and Tiddler in particular seems to offer some missed opportunities.
Technically, the lighting is good and there are some inspired choices with puppets and props (a banana becomes a fisherman’s hat, for example). But the pacing is a little off which makes the show seem longer than its hour running time.
Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales definitely has its moments, and is amusing and cute, but Bower’s songs aren’t that memorable or repetitive enough to become earworms you sing on the way home.
Ultimately, Tiddler feels a little unfocused which is a shame as all the performers can clearly act, sing and connect with younger audiences. You will find bits to enjoy but I was left wishing for just a bit more.
You can catch the show for yourself at Cadogan Hall until 21 August (multiple shows daily: book here).