My First Panto – Rapunzel At The Garage, Norwich!
It was said yesterday that we are part of the ‘My First’ series of productions family now because we’ve reviewed so many of their shows – I feel incredibly honoured. All In Productions who are Norwich based (but create these productions all over the world) are a stunning company who advance wonderful, immersive theatre experiences for children that rival any I have seen in London – the first time I saw one of their shows I was blown away. We didn’t used to have this sort of amazing theatre in little old Norwich, barely any particular scene for children to speak of at all bar the Puppet Theatre and so to have them flourish and produce play after play is wonderful to see. Amazing for Norwich, fantastic for the children who get to experience the shows and thrilling that a local group are behind it all. Good for All In Productions and GOOD FOR US!
I think one of the main things they do is really listen to their audiences meaning the shows get better and better and after small critique of other productions they have actually implemented what the audience has suggested. They are prepared to be wrong and in that they get everything right. This season’s panto, Rapunzel, actually IS everything right as far as I’m concerned and there is no critique necessary. NONE! It’s perfect!
I didn’t take my big kids this time although I would have had it not been in school time. The shows are suggested for up to age 7 and clearly at 10 Florence is much older but I think she is appreciative of the plays all the same and they are so sweet it would be hard not to. Nevertheless they couldn’t come to Rapunzel so I used it as a chance for Raffie and I to have an activity for just us. He gets me most of the time of course but when we go out for days the activities are usually geared up to the older ones and he has to come along for the ride – with the My First productions it was all going to to be about him!
Rapunzel, the My First Panto of the 2019 winter season, is playing at The Garage in Norwich from now until the 12th of January 2020. Shows are daily at varying times and tickets cost £12.50 for adults, £7.50 for children and under ones are free. Right, that’s the boring info now onto what you really need to know…
The stage is a vast space in the middle of the floor ahead of a small selection of traditional theatre seats. The rows just go up about 4 steps and the rest of the seating is on cushions around the central performance space. The walls are decorated with an enchanted fairyland and children are encouraged to draw and add to the scenes with chalk before, during and after the show. Raffie and I found a spot close to the back so that I could rest my back against the chair and my bottom on a cushion as he explored the chalks and also the props which were to be used in the performance but are simply scattered for playing before curtain up!
Sat on my lap for a good 10 minutes, stuck like glue and unwilling to really join in Raffie took a traditional approach to theatre viewing and sat in one spot. Unlike the other children who were off as soon as the actors (a cast of three) began to sing. The actors invite the children into the performance space frequently and it is understood that they may roam, run, move seats and be young children even when the actors are not specifically asking the children to be a part of a scene. That is what’s so lovely – I mean have you tried to get a two year old to sit still when he just doesn’t want to?! I wouod say it took that ten minutes for Raffie to realise there was freedom afoot and then, he pointed, he joined in with some props which were brought to him and within minutes after that he was off!
The story of Rapunzel is traditional but told in a smaller way for extra little ears to cope with and the singing as the actors play their instruments is beautiful. A real sensory party and the actors are extremely talented – there is no doubt there. We loved the clever use of props and how a sheet was used to be first a baby then a backdrop for some shadow puppetry and the tiny puppets used to climb up Rapunzel’s hair were really clever!
Raffie had a brilliant time, in fact he was the very last to leave the stage and I have to give a cyber round of applause once more to the cast and crew at All In, another tremendous show guys!
If you’re in Norfolk but not close to Norwich All In also have a sister production of Little Red Riding Hood (it’s good, we’ve seen it before) in Kings Lynn 16th to 29th of December at The Workshop, see their website for more details.
We were invited to see the show as guests of the theatre.