Tuesday, April 23

Spot’s Birthday Party – Theatre Severn

It’s hard to believe Eric Hill’s joyous creation has been bouncing joyfully through children’s literature for over forty years. I’m not sure what that is in doggy years, but Spot’s appearance in Shrewsbury this afternoon showed no sign of old age or flagging. “Where’s Spot?” quietly appeared on our book shop shelves in 1980 and slowly went talkies all over the country and onto bedroom bookshelves all over the world. Spot, the worldwide phenomenon, has barked in over sixty languages and has appeared on television, video, DVD, CD and now, in what appears its natural habitat, on stage.

Surrounded by a giggling, gurgling, pointing, chatting audience with an average age of about 6, this critic took his seat wondering what wonders would unfold in the doggy world of which he knew so little. Well, I’m panting with delight to report it was a joy from its wet nose to its wagging tail in a production which is bouncy, buoyant and fun for all ages. We meet the roster of familiar characters from the book – Helen the Blue Hippo, Steve the Brown Monkey, Tom the Green Crocodile, Spot’s mum and, of course, the eponymous heroine, Spot! Three multi-rolling, multi-tasking, multi-talented performers bring the show to life with some well-judged performances and endearing humour. It’s a show which doesn’t patronise or belittle its audience, nor does it have any winky, double-entendres for the grown-ups. This is children’s theatre delivered with respect, kindness and care straight to the heart of its audience.

Under the watchful eye of Guy Unsworth (who recently exhumed “Some Mother’s Do ‘ave ‘em” with a sprightly Joe Pasquale) we’re given an ample smattering of silly songs and delightful ditties – the Banana song and the Fancy Dress song are particular standouts – culminating in a fun and frolicsome birthday party for Spot. The music bounces merrily and everyone is soon joining in with the movements, the dancing and the words. The time passes so quickly and the “ahhhhh”s as Spot waves the final farewell stand testament to the audience’s love for the play.

Sam Bradshaw Productions are slowly building a solid reputation for endearing and enchanting children’s theatre, which has the child at its heart and Spot is on a huge tour (including a short jaunt to Singapore) until June and I’d suggested you catch it while you can!

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 24th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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