The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck

You would be forgiven for thinking that a production of The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck performed in a circus tent might involve people dressed up as the characters acting out the tales. Indeed, this seemed to be the popular opinion in the queue before we entered. But this production is actually a storytelling show, accompanied by a small classical orchestra. It’s not a bad show by any means, but it might not be the one that you were expecting.

Essentially the audiobook version of Beatrix Potter’s tales with a small live band

Performer Michelle Todd is a charming and engaging storyteller. Dressed as Beatrix Potter, she narrates and sings through the two tales with gusto and sounds exactly like a children’s bedtime storyteller should sound. The Children’s Classic Concerts Festival Ensemble do a good job too; there was little to fault with their musical performance.

But despite large cut-outs of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck sitting by the stage, this is as much as we get. Whilst many children sat and listened politely, there were a significant number of others whose attention waned and who ended up crawling around the tent. The production itself even seemed to anticipate this by handing out activity sheets to all the children as they entered, as if they knew they wouldn’t be able to focus on the show itself. This almost seems like admitting defeat.

There was plenty of padding and filler in the show. The compere did a decent job talking to the children in between tales and we were introduced to the percussionist who talked about hitting things for a while, but it all felt a bit like cruise-ship entertainment or a children’s holiday camp during these moments. The pacing of the piece suffered badly as a result.

This show would be suitable for quieter and thoughtful children; the sort who are satisfied with purely musical stimuli and who don’t require any sort of visual accompaniment. Exhausted parents looking for something unchallenging might also enjoy themselves. But those children bursting with energy and excitement to see Peter Rabbit onstage might be disappointed.

The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck is essentially the audiobook version of Beatrix Potter’s tales with a small live band, and that might sound ideal to some. Just don’t go expecting to see some cuddly versions of your favourite characters.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

Escape to Beatrix Potter's wonderful world and enjoy her timeless tales of our favourite characters Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck. Award-winning soprano and actress Michelle Todd and the Children's Classic Concerts Festival Ensemble perform Stephen McNeff's enchanting musical settings, which have delighted audiences across the world. 'Perfect for kids... it has a great charm and a tour de force narration' (Guardian). Peter and Jemima image copyright held by Frederick Warne & Co.