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Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND
0115 989 5555
31-Aug-14 to 31-Aug-16
Mon-Fri, Sat, Sun, Vary
The Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall are right in the heart of Nottingham City Centre and are both top Midlands entertainment venues. The Theatre Royal hosts a variety of touring shows, including West End Musicals, plays and national touring dance companies. Whilst the Royal Concert Hall plays host to a fantastic selection of orchestras, comedians and pop concerts.
Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.
The Theatre Royal invited us to review Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom on Tuesday 19th May 2015. Our review team was two three-year-olds with accompanying adults.
This adaptation of the popular televised cartoon is produced by the same team who brought us Peppa Pig's Big Splash last year. The big bright set, happy music and cheery characters were similarly appealing, though this time played by actors, wearing puppet heads. Gaston the ladybird was a shiny dog-sized model and a magical flying scene utilised smaller puppets against a starry backdrop, to good effect.
The audience of pre-schoolers was curious, enthusiastic and often vocal. The production harnessed their voices and energy well, with plenty of call and response elements, songs and actions to join in with.
The plot was created out of a number of storylines, combined to create a very busy day. We played hide and seek with Ben and Holly, met a funny belching frog, welcomed Nanny Plum who helped tidy Gaston's cave and followed them all on a journey to collect a tooth from a girl called Lucy, who joined them in their kingdom after Holly performed some shrinking magic. We sang with the elf band, saw potion being prepared to cure the King's cold and joined in with his birthday party.
Familiarity with the characters made it magical and the interaction was fun but the episodic storyline made this hard to follow as a whole story, in contrast to Peppa Pig, which had assembled elements clearly leading towards a finale. Our reviewers' attention was retained throughout, just not always by the detail of the plot.
The theatre was well prepared for the influx of children. Helpful staff supervised a roped-off pushchair storage area and handed out armfuls of booster seats. Ground floor men's and women's toilets include baby changing facilities and there are more upstairs.
“Can we stay here?” and “Can we come next Tuesday?” seem pretty good endorsements from the reviewers who really count.
OD, LD, FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
The Theatre Royal invited us to review The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas on Tuesday 17th March 2015.
A simple but effectively told fable, about how friendship, between two boys from opposite sides of the fence, can overcome difference. In this case, the fence being the barbed wire of a concentration camp and the boys nine-year-olds, innocent in every sense, friendship alone is not enough to change the course of history.
The story is told from the perspective of Bruno (played on press night by Cameron Duncan). We understand more from the adults' answers and behaviour than he does but we see and hear little that Bruno does not. A natural consequence is that the adults seem distant, distracted and a little caricature-ish; Bruno's Camp Commandant father serious and important, his mother flitting about the house, organising, pleading briskly for compliant behaviour. Teenage sister Gretel and maid Maria are more rounded but living in parallel worlds, across a gap of years.
Their distraction opens up space for Bruno's explorations, meeting and developing friendship with fellow nine-year old Shmuel (Sam Peterson on press night). The children were both fantastic, Bruno carefree and curious, Shmuel sweet and bright but resigned to accepting an existence he doesn't understand. It's the grown-up doctor-cum-waiter Pavel and youthful bully-with-a-secret Kotler who really convey, to us and to Bruno, how strange and wrong a change has taken place in the world.
The action, on a simple set, flitted back and forth in time during the first half, in a manner that confused temporarily, while seeking to convey Bruno's piecing together of how he'd arrived at ‘Out-with'. Otherwise, the character of Bruno's Grandmother in particular, brought to life the wider social and political context with magnificent simplicity.
Aimed at a teenage audience, the auditorium was packed, with many teenagers present. Tickets are scarce but, for a production that subtly challenges our point of view, rather than exploiting its young characters to sentimental ends, it's worth seeing.
CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
The Theatre Royal invited us to review To Kill a Mockingbird on Monday 23rd February 2015. Our reviewers approached the production with quite differing familiarity.
The play is presented as an ensemble performance, with members of the cast taking turns to read from copies of the book - different editions, in celebration of this story's reach and longevity - voicing ‘adult Scout's' reflective narration. This device allows a pacy performance to present the main events, without losing its depth.
Scenes were established on a simple set, impressively including a climbable tree. The child actors were well cast and wonderful, Connor Brundish's Dill delightfully resembling his literary portrayal. Our Mockingbird newcomers found the first act; the characters, southern accents and some delivery, required concentration, before events were resolved in the court scene. The denoument of Scout and Jem's ‘longest night' was played simply but powerfully. Boo Radley seemed suitably subterranean. Atticus was everything one expects Atticus to be; not glamorous but deeply dependable.
The performance felt celebratory, of a great story and characters, while remaining resonant as a tale of how comfortably people conform to social expectations and prejudice, bad actions escalate and few people do really good things - yet the ones who do can be quite unexpected. Its power is in inspiring us (especially us as teenagers) to wish to be one of those few.
J (15) says “I thought the cast were excellent. There was an offensive term used, which I was shocked by when it was first said, but I understand that this was a normal word which was used a great deal when the book was written, and my shock at its use just emphasises to me how much equality and respect have moved on. I haven't read the book, but I will now.”
This is a fabulous interpretation and a gripping performance, whether you're coming to the story for the first time, or the fiftieth. Many people stood to applaud. The theatre was full; few tickets remain. Buy them now.
JTB, JMB and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
The Theatre Royal invited us to review Horrible Histories on the 19th November 2014.
Based on the books, this show had its own fast-paced, witty but distinctly playground sensibility. From the initial challenge, by the ‘Barmy Britain' men, to the ‘Great Britain' women, through Henry VIII as a spoilt child, an audience singing contest and a WWI wrestling match, there was a sense of joyous ‘I told you so' one-upmanship. A versatile company of four exhibited skilful physical theatre with pantomime elements, carrying us bawdily, with the inevitable fart and stool jokes, through a two hour performance.
A large screen took the place of a set. In the second half we were instructed to wear ‘sunglasses' and a 3D experience commenced, adding visual depth and sending; a pigeon, a plane, splintered wood and Elizabeth I's newly decomposed skull, flying towards us.
J (age 15) says "I really enjoyed this. It was funny, a lot like the book. At times I really got the toilet humour and the jokes, as did all of the other children (even the younger ones) in the audience, there were even jokes for adults as well so everyone was kept entertained. The use of graphics and props was amazing, it's the first time I've ever seen a play with a 3D screen. I'd absolutely go and see this again."
Jokes for all age groups – one of the cleverest things about the books and TV version – were played delightfully, referencing ‘Take Me Out', ‘TOWIE' and World of Warcraft. A ‘Who Wants to Blow up Parliament' Guy Fawkes special and Queen Victoria rapping and break-dancing were personal favourites.
This was a great performance, and really brought history to life. It engaged the audience so we didn't feel as if we were watching, but taking part. The enthusiasm of the cast really shone through. Horrible Histories offers a sneakily good way to teach history to children and we wouldn't hesitate to book again for the next offering.
JTB, JMB, CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
We were invited by the Theatre Royal to review ‘Peppa Pig's Big Splash' on Saturday 25th October 2014.
Our review team was one two and a half year-old, with two adults. This ratio seemed typical in an audience peppered with pre-schoolers, in a sea of parents and grandparents, packing the theatre for a family treat.
The theatre was prepared for this tide of tots, with a large roped-off pushchair storage area and armfuls of booster seats. Ground floor men's and women's toilets include baby changing facilities and there are more upstairs.
The curtain opened on a familiar bright, cartoonish set and the show began with a game of hide and seek. Peppa's friends, represented as child-sized puppets, popped up from behind shrubs and inside playhouses to introduce themselves, while Daisy, our bubbly ‘human guide' skipped about seeking – assisted of course by the audience. Peppa herself was last to emerge, with a characteristic snort. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig appeared and we felt at home with our cast of friends.
Daisy easily engaged us in clapping and waving to cheery songs. Children were encouraged to jump – to help shake a dinosaur toy down from a tree. This proved invaluable practice for the show's finale.
After the interval, we moved to a fundraising fair, with stalls, games and a costumed ‘Mr Potato' causing speculation about the true size of potatoes and power of the imagination.
The finale arrived with the puddle-jumping competition. Daddy Pig was the world record holder but with a relaxed approach to training, his record was taken by Mr Bull – as the front rows were lightly splashed.
What was to be done? Was there any rule about how many friends could help one puddle-jumper? No? Well then, Peppa might just have the answer – her friends! First she must find her golden boots, then, with one big jump from everyone – the puddle was gone!
The use of puppets, rather than costume characters, gave Peppa and friends a cute friendliness and toddler-eye perspective on the set and adult characters - who would otherwise have been monstrous - successfully maintaining a cartoonish fantasy.
Our small reviewer was most engaged by the songs and jumping. Brightly-lit windmills in the audience proved a distraction (and a lesson learnt for us – be prepared to buy merchandise early, or distract effectively). Altogether, her curiosity and sense of fun at being part of Peppa's world, was maintained successfully. That inclusion, more than Peppa Pig herself, was what it was all about.
FD, BD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
The Theatre Royal invited us to review ‘Scooby-Doo', showing in Nottingham from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st August 2014. The story sees Scooby, Shaggy and their friends, arrive in Egypt to solve ‘The Mystery of the Pyramid', which they set about with characteristic gusto.
On my arrival there was a buzz of excitement as families poured into the theatre. As I took my seat next to a little girl and her mother, an air of noisy expectation pervaded; this was encouraged by upbeat music pouring from the loud speakers. This was to be a noisy, but very enjoyable, ‘mystery' show.
The set, light and sound are all used to maximum effect in this production. There are a few scary moments when the lights go out, or are dimmed, such as the initial viewing of two dancing mummies, but these are momentary and add to the general excitement. The costumes are bright and true to the style of the television characters. The acting is excellent and includes lots of singing and dancing.
This is a production that requires lots of audience participation: The characters come into the stalls on several occasions, offering high fives, and encourage clapping, dancing, booing and the inevitable ‘he's behind you!' throughout. The children in the audience were engaged by the story and keen to dance, boo and wave to the characters on stage. This was a show equally appreciated by the adults in the family, with some good jokes and skilful dance moves by the actors, not to mention a particularly impressive speech from Shaggy, spoken at great speed.
Before the performance and during the interval, Scooby-Doo activity books and glowing, spinning windmills, were for sale; these proved popular with children. The production is 90 minutes long, including a 20 minute interval, which allowed plenty of time to eat ice creams, go to the toilet, and chat about the performance so far.
Overall, a lively and engaging production brimming with energy and fun.
CW for Mumsnet Nottingham.
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