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Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AF
0115 941 9419
2-Jan-15 to 2-Jan-17
Bar open midday to late every day, from 11am - 6pm on Sundays. Theatre open for performances.
At Nottingham Playhouse we make bold and thrilling theatre. It is world-class, made in Nottingham and as diverse as our community.
Situated in Nottingham city centre, Nottingham Playhouse puts on a wide variety of drama, music, dance, comedy and of course, the legendary Nottingham Playhouse pantomime. The Playhouse can also be hired as a wedding venue for your perfect day or a conference venue for that all important meeting.
Regular family friendly events.
Youth theatre with several age groups.
Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.
We were invited to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show by Nottingham Playhouse, on Monday 17th October 2016.
Our four-and-a-half year-old reviewer was among the older members of the child audience, with pre-schoolers prevalent and a sea of pushchairs accommodated in a downstairs room (accessible by lift).
The show was beautifully simple, faithfully conveying four books by Eric Carle through puppetry, so precise as to appear spontaneous.
‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse' set the scene. The artist painted animals in unusual colours, each hinted at by a dancing puppeteer, before the painting was revealed and a puppet animal ran, jumped, sauntered, flew or peered across the stage. “Are they real?” - the animals' movement convinced, confirming the brilliance of the artist, who understood that a lion of any other colour is still a lion.
‘Mister Seahorse' saw the set descend underwater, Mister Seahorse meeting many different father fish, each carrying their eggs with care until they hatched. Shimmering puppets twirled beautifully until the baby seahorses emerged and swam away. Our sense of sadness at their parting was addressed immediately by ‘The Very Lonely Firefly', who, after many mistaken encounters, found his friends.
‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar' finale was as faithful to the book as it had to be – those illustrations, their colours, the brushstrokes are the substance of the story. Cut-out food echoed the collage effect of the book and a puppet caterpillar interacted delightfully (the salami wasn't quite right... everything else was just about spot on).
We spotted only one ‘join', when the caterpillar that popped out of its egg was replaced immediately by a bigger one, edging over the leaf. “Maybe the one in the egg was shy”. We were delighted though, with the big, fat post-feast caterpillar and its transformation into a beautiful butterfly. A magical end to a magical show.
Making performance look simple while captivating its audience is the hallmark of a really good production. A delight and thoroughly recommended to anyone under six with some time to spare on Tuesday or Wednesday. A few tickets remain for all performances.
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Nottingham Playhouse invited us to see Old Mother Hubbard and Her Cupboard on Saturday 30th April 2016. Our four-year-old reviewer took her mother.
A charming, hand-crafted production, with a nostalgic, fairy-tale feel. Featuring puppets, a person, shadow-projection and, a bear, with folk music accompaniment, this show seamlessly created its own eccentric world. A hint of jeopardy caused slight disquiet but our puppeteer's cheeriness kept the mood upbeat and curious, as we followed this sweet, funny and whimsical tale to its happy conclusion.
‘Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard, to get her poor dog a bone; But when she looked there, the cupboard was bear...' No, not bear, bare! But, there was a bear... in this tale at least. The delightful Old Mother Hubbard, her happy dog Oscar, friend Iklooshar and a pesky mouse are joined by an at first ever so subtle but increasingly bold – and as it turns out, mischievously warm-hearted - bear.
Our human host Iklooshar introduced Mother Hubbard and her cupboard home, bringing her cake ingredients from the shop. Mother Hubbard went about her day, with Oscar, hanging out washing, making breakfast, getting ready to bake a cake. But then two surprising things happened – her sugar was stolen and the postman brought her a party invitation, asking her to bring a cake. Iklooshar saved the day (with a little help), producing a cake – which was stolen! Undaunted, Mother Hubbard and Oscar set off for the party in the forest, where suddenly everything made sense.
The 11am performance, in the intimate Neville Studio, was well attended, with 40 or 50 children present, plus their grown-ups. Most children were in the 3-6 year-old range. Many sat on scatter cushions at the stage's edge, some with their parents. Our reviewer started on the cushions, retreated during a scary bit, using her mother's arm as an eye-shield whenever the bear's paw appeared, then returned to the front to greet the puppets at the end.
“My favourite part was the bear hand”, “But you were scared of the bear paw”, “Yes but it was still my favourite part”. Our eagerness to engage with this charming story was in no doubt at all.
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Nottingham Playhouse invited us to see Tom Thumb on Saturday 16th April 2016. Our four-year-old reviewer took her father along.
Our tiny hero's tale was told by an actor, a musician and lots of puppets, in the Playhouse's intimate Neville Studio. Tiered seating was complemented by floor-cushions, bringing children in close to the action for an enjoyably immersive experience.
The production incorporated many traditional elements in a series of perilous adventures. Tom was created by a fairy and Merlin for his father, Old Thomas of the Mountain. On meeting a mouse he turned invisible, pulled its tail, made friends then rode on its back. An owl carried Tom away, to trade with an ogre for sweetmeats. The ogre swallowed Tom whole, whereupon Tom caused internal aggravation and was ejected, washed out to sea and swallowed by a fish. The fish was caught and taken to King Arthur. Tom was knighted and sent on a quest to kill the dragon. After succeeding, Tom was filled with remorse and returned to the woods, never to be seen again.
Children were drawn in and carried along with this fantastical tale, one story at a time, with songs, jokes, joining-in, and humour for the adults too. The fish who swallowed Tom swam all the way to the back of the audience, before being caught, pulled and passed forwards. Our favourite elements were the fairy, King Arthur answering audience questions and the songs.
The age recommendation of 4+ seemed about right, as some imaginative engagement with many, quite simple, puppets is required. Everyone present seemed to enjoy themselves – a little wriggling was of the enthusiastic sort.
Imaginative, immersive, funny, musical fun.
FD, BD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Nottingham Playhouse invited us to review Hare and Tortoise on Saturday 12th December 2015. Our 3½ year old reviewer went along with her mother.
Hare wants to have a race with Tortoise. He really, really wants to have a race, now. Oh but Tortoise is asleep. Can he wake her up? Well yes, eventually but, first things first.
Tortoise keeps Hare waiting while she warms up, cleans, plants carrots, they go on holiday, chase butterflies, go fishing, sing songs and she drinks another cup of tea from her flask, in the manner of a veteran rambler.
Winter turns to spring, then summer, with a simple but delicately effective set marking the changes and we've almost forgotten about their race, when, eventually, Tortoise decides she's ready. Hare is so speedy, so keen, so very impatient so… easily distracted. Tortoise notices things, knows what to expect and, what to do.
Three children were asked to help carry holiday luggage. Three more to bring it home again. Hare dashed here and there, greeting everyone. We all joined in with warm-up stretches and clapping to music. We even found time for a quick chat with Tortoise as she ambled past on her way round the race course.
“Which bit did you like the best?” “All of it.” Apparently we're coming again and our reviewer was concerned to ensure there'd be time for her friends to see it too.
A tale of enthusiasm, experience, enjoyment and friendship, beautifully told and full of details that connect with its audience, their parents and grandparents.
The show is recommended as suitable for ages 4-8 and that age group will appreciate its subtleties and detail but younger children will – and did, there were quite a few in the audience – grasp the basics of this very gentle and friendly production.
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Nick Brooke Ltd invited us to see Aliens Love Underpants at Nottingham Playhouse on Tuesday 23rd June 2015 at 1.30pm. Our three-year-old reviewer took her mother along.
Aliens Love Underpants is adapted from the book of the same name but significantly extended, with songs, dances and audience interaction. Four enthusiastic young actors led the cast, each playing multiple roles, accompanied chiefly by alien puppets. The aliens themselves were pleasingly bright and familiar-looking.
Underpants were disappearing and someone had to find out what was going on. Who better than a school-boy would-be spaceman, whose mother had just been to the pant shop, again? The production was fast-paced, funny, energetic and full of songs and on-stage fun. The audience was engaged from the beginning in answering pant-related questions, then shouting out answers and singing a final pant-based song.
A cheerfully noisy production allowed pre-schooler wriggles, questions and comments to pass mostly undetected by fellow audience-members and, if small patrons wanted to join in with some dancing beside their seats, well why not. If anything the pace, both of plot and dialogue, was a little too fast for our three-year-old to follow fully and references, especially to the aliens' ‘pants of famous earthlings' collection were for much older children. The energy, songs and the aliens themselves kept our reviewer engaged but a primary school-aged audience will probably gain most from this show – a school group seemed rapt. Everyone came out happy and entertained and that's what really counts!
The Playhouse offered a friendly, comfortable and accessible venue. There are toilets on most levels, including recently refurbished baby-changing facilities and an accessible toilet on the ground floor. The café bar offered drinks and snacks and there's plenty of seating, whether eating or just anticipating, indoors and out.
FD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Worboys Productions invited us to review Mrs McMoon's Tea Party at Nottingham Playhouse on the 6th June 2015. Our review team were a three-year-old with her parents.
The production was staged in the Neville Studio, a small auditorium upstairs, with tiered seating and a double row of cushions in front, offering unobstructed views and closeness to the action for the younger audience members.
The set was a cosy sitting room and kitchen into which Mrs McMoon appeared, searching everywhere for a ringing telephone. Audience assistance was clearly required. Welcoming us to her home and impending tea party, Mrs McMoon proceeded to make her ‘scrumulumptious biscuits', wafting flour, breaking an egg, bunging the mixture in the oven and dancing a special jig. Six perfectly baked biscuits emerged. We were instructed to warn her if anyone should try to take a biscuit and practised shouting ‘Mrs McMoon!'
This performance of baking and shouting was repeated as visitors arrived, always coinciding with Mrs McMoon having to fetch something from her pantry and each time, couldn't restrain themselves from trying the biscuits. Each visitor established their own rapport with the audience. Cousin Gilbert with Cyril the Squirrel wreaked mayhem, sister Jill was refined but in need of something special to feed the flower she'd planted, after feeding ‘horse poo compost' to a volunteered Dad and having him enthusiastically squirted with water. Jelly-loving granddaughter Rosie tried to eat all the biscuits, after accidentally squashing the jelly she'd been so excitedly showing off.
In the end, despite being worn out from baking and running out of ingredients, Mrs McMoon managed to create one last batch of biscuits with a little help, as all the children danced the biscuit-baking jig and, quite remarkably, there were enough to go around. After more dancing, it was the end of the tea party. Mrs McMoon was quick to proffer her merchandise, at a fairly child-friendly price of £5 for a ‘bundle' of CD, stickers and poster.
Mrs McMoon's Tea Party was lively, witty, just a little bit bawdy on perfectly dual levels and performed with great warmth and assurance by someone who clearly enjoyed interacting with her audience. Our initially uncertain three-year old was quickly engaged and soon shouting out and dancing with great enthusiasm. We'd certainly take her and her friends to tea with Mrs McMoon again.
Playhouse staff were welcoming, helpful and on hand throughout the performance to offer assistance or directions as required. There are toilets on most levels, including recently refurbished baby-changing facilities and an accessible toilet on the ground floor. The café bar opened at eleven, the same time the first performance started. Having promised a ‘special drink' as a theatre-going treat and arrived early and, given three-year-olds' patience and ability to forget about treats, we were grateful that the bar staff accepted correct change before the tills opened.
FD, BD and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
Nottingham Playhouse and Immersion Theatre, with Cambridge Touring Theatre, invited us to see The Wind in the Willows on Friday 10th April 2015.
An Easter Holiday treat, this production attracted a theatre full of mostly four to eleven year-olds and their accompanying adults, for an afternoon's jollity and laughter. Our five-year old reviewer and his mother were amongst them.
Six energetic actors portrayed Toad, Badger, Ratty, Mole and the weasels in engaging style, with lots of physical drama and audience interaction. Wearing vibrant and elaborate costumes, they sang catchy songs the audience could clap along to. The performers kept up a brisk pace, successfully holding the attention of younger audience members.
Our reviewer's favourite parts included the burglary scene, where they “chased the baddies and jumped over each other”. He was gripped by Toad, finding him funny and very entertaining. The jail scene was most memorable, as “it was scary and sad", “I had tears coming out of my eyes". The interactive elements, when the characters moved through the audience, went down very well - being in the stalls meant feeling part of the action.
An opportunity to meet the characters afterwards was seized upon and our reviewer was overjoyed when Badger appeared at the stage door and spoke to him. Overall, he loved the play and as soon as it had finished said "can we see it again mummy?" Lots of fun, a really entertaining outing for all the family.
OH, RH and CG for Mumsnet Nottingham
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