Lancaster Offshoots have created an enjoyable and surprisingly funny offering with their take on
Promenade elements have been cunningly interwoven into proceedings. The children are taken around the stage and through the tales by the ensemble, whilst adults can quite happily watch from afar sitting down – a decision I heartily approve of.
We are presented with shortened versions of several classic tales, including those of Squirrel Nutkin and Jemima Puddleduck, in addition to the title character Peter. Performed by a talented ensemble, audience interaction is at the heart of the production. Promenade elements have been cunningly interwoven into proceedings. The children are taken around the stage and through the tales by the ensemble, whilst adults can quite happily watch from afar sitting down – a decision I heartily approve of. There are occasional sight problems for those sitting - the use of drapes hanging from washing lines for scenery looks gorgeous but sometimes blocks the action further upstage. For those on foot however, the effect must be marvellous.
The ensemble, as previously mentioned, work excellently together. Lucy Unsworth in particular proves to be very effective as Squirrel Nutkin, whilst Michael Dodds provides entertaining quips and asides to the audience as Mr Tod. Indeed, there are plenty of jokes for the adults littered in the script and they work well for the most part. Occasionally they go too far – at one point, some of the characters ponder the nature of drama and Edwardian values to cover a costume change, and everyone is left very confused. More importantly, it was so drawn out as to feel like it excluded the children from not only the joke but the show. The quality of audio recordings played throughout the show was also fairly questionable. Often they were too quiet, acted blandly or appeared to start randomly and were recorded with noticeably low-quality equipment. The use of a live microphone might have improved proceedings. But these were blips in an otherwise solid production.
The promenade style of this show might not be for all children. The show is rightly recommended to those aged five and above, although there were younger audience members present, and the very young might feel too intimidated to join these beloved characters onstage. Yet even if they choose to sit with their parents, ultimately there is plenty here for everyone to enjoy. Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Other Tales is very recommendable.