Let entertainment take centre stage
S a c hi l d y o u may remember embarkingonthe summer holidays with the feeling that the next six weeks were going to be some kind of paradise. But after two weeks of endless Monopoly and Ludo the experience began to pale a little.
However, there are plenty of summer shows around this year which can give much needed entertainment to children and, just as importantly, respite to their parents.
At Wimbledon’s Polka Dot Theatre the smaller ones will be delighted with an afternoon out at Moominsummer Madness, featuring the Scandinavian cartoon creations, the Moomins, which have captivated a generation of children. The strange, bear-like creatures have been brought to life as puppets in Phil Porter’s production and they are forced to find a new home in a floating theatre after Moomin Valley is destroyed by a flood. The show is suitable for four- to eight-year-olds. Until August 16. www.polkatheatre.com
If your children will have spent endless hours watching Horrible Histories on CBBC — the programme in which the bizarre and gruesome from Brit- ain’s past is presented for primaryschool-age children. Its aim is the laudably Reithian one of educating while entertaining. This summer, the latest stage incarnation of the franchise is at the Garrick Theatre. Entitled Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Two it offers the familiar jokey reconstruction of history in a formula which will tickle children and grown-ups alike. August 3 to 31. www.nimaxtheatres.com
In summer holdays past, DVDs of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have saved the day on many occasions. Now we have the all-singing all-dancing West End musical directed by Sam Mendes (of Skyfall fame). The story is the familiar one of Charlie fighting four brattish rivals for a lifetime’s supply of confectionery but the show has been updated and the multi-millionpound budget makes for a mind-blowing production. Tickets aren’t cheap but this is a guaranteed winner. www. reallyuseful.com
If you are a fan of Roald Dahl’s stories and haven’t yet seen Matilda The Musical, the phenomenal success of this West End adaptation of his story means you still have plenty of time to do so. The show, created by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, tells the story of a young girl gifted with magical powers whose dimwitted parents are oblivious of her talents and become the object of her pranks. Until May 2015. www.reallyuseful.com
For parents of little ones (between three and seven), Southgate’s Chickenshed Theatre has more of a budget offering. In London Bridges – Tales from the Shed’s Summer Shows, story collector Jackto Factotum tells, through puppetry and rhyme, magical tales from around the world. July 31 to August 9. www.chickenshed.org.uk The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Lyric Theatre is based on one of the most famous children’s books of the lot, written and illustrated by Judith Kerr, who fled with her family to Britain from Germany on the eve of the Second World War. For anyone who doesn’t know the story (there must be someone), Kerr writes magically about a tiger who visits a young girl, Sophie, and guzzles all the food i n the cupboard, all the water in the tap... and all daddy’s beer. The show includes magic, singalongs and plenty of chaos. Until Septemb e r 7 . www. nimaxtheatres. com
If you have small children, they will almost certainly have been transfixed at some time by In the Night Garden, with Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and The Tombliboos. The programme has been transformed into a live show which arrives at the Trafford Centre in Manchester for a run between August 2 and 23 which will be an exciting experience for any pre-school children. www. nightgardenlive.com
Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s bestselling children’s book Aliens Love Underpants has been adapted for the stage and reaches the West End this summer with a run at the Leicester Square Theatre. The show is based on the book’s perfectly plausible premise that while you might think that aliens came to earth with a view to taking over the planet, what they really want to do is steal your pants. Until August 31. wwwleicestersquaretheatre.com
And if you have never attended an elephant party you will need to get along to the New London Theatre for one of the summer’s biggest hits – The Elephantom. The show is about a girl who is visited by an elephant ghost which appears fun at first but proceeds to bring chaos in the girl’s previously ordered life. The show, adapted from Ross Colllins’ book, is told wordlessly but by all accounts the staging is pacy and exciting. Until September 6. www. elephantomonstage.com
The Tiger Who Came To Tea