Tuesday, 31 July 2018

REVIEW: The Scarecrows’ Wedding at the Leicester Square Theatre

The Scarecrows’ Wedding is a 2014 book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler who are best known for the creation of The Gruffalo. Scamp Theatre has lovingly transferred it to the stage at the Leicester Square Theatre until 2ndSeptember. It is a show designed for young children and the promotional leaflet says “babes in arms go free”, so there is no mistaking its audience. Magically as soon as the three performers enter the fully lit auditorium and begin to sing “Life in the Country” accompanying themselves on banjo, violin and beatbox, the young children in the audience fell silent. The little girl a few rows in front who for the previous ten minutes had been screaming to go home was entranced. The cast skilfully create a host of wild life to enthral them and as one young boy heckles “it’s magic”.

Betty O'Barley (played by Philippa Hogg) and Harry O'Hay (played by Matthew Burns) are two scarecrows in love and are planning to marry. They agree they need five things for the wedding and set out to collect white feathers for the dress, shells for necklace, pink flowers, bells and two rings. They begin their search and along the way they encounter two geese (made from a pair of socks), three cows (just bells on a string), a crab (Spanish hat and tambourine!), a toad (on a green space hopper), a bee (a kazoo) and a snail (a backpack and flatcap!). While Harry is delayed away on the quest the French lothario Reginald Rake (played by Mark kane) tries to tempt her away from the wedding.

Director Eva Sampson and designer James Button have done a charming job bringing this simple love story to the stage and every prop is used for multiple purposes to tell the story. It is imaginative and inventive. They also include audience participation with mooing and clapping along to the simple but catchy tunes by Darren Clark like “that’s the life of a scarecrow”. There are also occasional jokes for the adults like being told that the two cows Teresa and May aren’t fans of a vote and that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Perhaps they had brexit in mind when the wicked French man appears to try to stop the marriage!

It is a charming fun show running to 55 minutes and sure to mesmerise small children and I hope encourages them to read more of the delightful books and to attend more live theatre for magical storytelling.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Seat: Stalls H | Price of Ticket: £19.50
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