The Snail and the Whale

Joyous in every way, The Snail and the Whale by Tall Stories is a textbook example of how to do theatre for children right.

The Snail and the Whale is totally and utterly recommendable to any family with children of primary school age.

The plot follows Amy Tobias as a young girl and Patrick Bridgman as her father who together tell their favourite bedtime story of The Snail and the Whale. This story concerns a tiny snail itching to see the whole world and who hitches a lift on the back of a humpback whale. The storytelling is elegant, seamlessly switching from songs to dialogue to full-blown audience interaction. The story itself is well-layered, with neat parallels to the father’s own job at sea and his daughter’s longing to follow him, as well as his own determination to tell her the bedtime story from afar by sending her a CD recording of himself doing so.

Children aged 4 and above should love this show. Almost as soon as the show starts, they are immediately made to feel part of the story, as the girl hides among them because her father tries to get her ready for bed. To compare this sort of sequence to pantomime doesn’t really do it justice. It’s simple, effective and, above all, lots of fun. Audience interaction soon extends to singing, maths and even water guns. Parents, you have been warned.

The perfect simplicity of this show extends into every aspect. The set was absolutely wonderful and cleverly constructed, with the bedroom furniture effortlessly turning into a humpback whale before you’ve had a chance to blink. The show’s various songs, sang and performed by Catriona Stirling, are very catchy and the only thing more charming than them is the cast themselves. Tobias, Bridgman and Stirling are masters of their craft, knowing exactly how to interact with their young audience without ever patronising them.

The Snail and the Whale is totally and utterly recommendable to any family with children of primary school age. You’ve never heard a more pleasant bedtime story in the morning.

Reviews by James Beagon

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Tall Stories' hugely popular Julia Donaldson adaptation returns. A tiny snail longs to see the world, so she hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale. Follow the snail's amazing journey, as seen through the eyes of an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father. Storytelling, live music and lots of laughs, in a show for everyone aged four and up. 'Expect to leave the theatre happy and smiling' **** (Fest). 'An imaginative and heartfelt adaptation' **** (List). 'One of the best examples of children's theatre' ***** (WhatsOnStage.com).