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A right royal romp

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Me and the Mudlet are just in from our first trip to the theatre together.  I was dreading it, since she’s only three and, even though she’s easily entranced by performances of any kind she’s, well, three. But I’m mightily relieved to report it was a big success and I didn’t need to fumble in my bag for the smuggled-in hip flask.  I reckon you and the brood would enjoy a little trip to Plymouth’s Theatre Royal for this too and, since it’s significantly kinder on the bank balance than Panto, it’s a great way to brighten up a January day.  But be quick, it’s only in town until Saturday, so don’t dither around – do it!

For those who’ve forgotten the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale classic, the Emperor’s New Clothes is the eccentric tale of a vain emperor who is obsessed with clothes.  Despite his humungous wardrobe, he insists he doesn’t have anything to wear for his birthday (know the feeling); but when a couple of ‘designers’ promise him a new suit of clothes that they say has never been seen before, he has no idea that he’s about to parade in his birthday suit.

Emperors New Clothes February 2016 - Louise Froggatt ©

You’d think this might be a tricky story to tell to children as young as two, but this is what theatre company Stuff and Nonsense do.  We’re new to their productions but I’m told there have been two previous sell-out performances of Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Theatre Royal and it seems plenty of parents have made it a bit of a festive tradition to take their kids along when they’re in town performing.  I can see why.

Emperors New Clothes February 2016 - Louise Froggatt ©

This take on the story is a Muppets-inspired performance full of cute puppetry, songs and oodles of energy.  There is a cast of just two and the Drum Theatre is the venue’s smallest, but with several ‘puppety’ extras (manhandled by said actors) and inventive set design, it’s pretty mind-blowing what can happen on a small stage.

It’s only an hour long which is perfect for fidgets and there is plenty of audience interaction; we’re not talking pantomime here, but just enough to keep the younger members of the audience entertained.  Mine was among the youngest there and I did sense a bit of restlessness coming on now and again, but there was always a timely song or distraction to get us happily to the end and keep bums on seats.

Emperors New Clothes February 2016 - Louise Froggatt ©

In my opinion, this is a wonderful way to wile away a few hours and a great way to introduce the kids to the delights of theatre.  And if you’ve a few hours to kill afterwards, then you’re just over the road from relaxed, vintage bistro Rumpus Cosy for great coffee and cake.

The Mudlet verdict?  Again!

Buy tickets from £9. Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR.  Tel: 01752 267222.  www.theatreroyal.com  

All performance photos Louise Froggatt ©

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