If you have a young child and a television, you have at some point (probably at many points, over and over again) visited the weird and wonderful world of In The Night Garden. A place where a blue doll called Igglepiggle refuses to sleep while rag doll Upsy Daisy blows kisses and Makka Pakka stacks freshly cleaned stones and pushes them around in a trolley. Add Tombiliboos, Pontipines and Haahoos and you are firmly in a curious world that confuses adults and delights pre-school children in equal measure.
So what is it like to actually “go into” this Night Garden? Simply put, it’s enchanting.
Held within a specially constructed “showdome”, the live experience offers a fantastic introduction to theatre for toddlers in an environment perfectly designed for families with little ones. There are no seats like a traditional theatre; just thirteen rows of large carpeted, terraced stairs offering plenty of space for wandering around, dancing and impromptu toilet breaks.
There’s a good view from every angle, and the house lights never fully go down so there aren't any “scary” dark moments for the children to endure.
The show itself is a multimedia experience that really beings the venue to life, mixing colourful projections around the stage (including the ceiling) with puppets, actors and full sized versions of the main characters telling one of two specially written stories for the live show.
Both the shows (Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk – you don’t need to see one to understand the other. No spoilers here!) are written by Andrew Davenport (the man behind the TV series) and feature all of the familiar characters plus narration from Derek Jacobi, the voice of the TV show.
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At just under an hour, with lots of exits and entrances, music, bubbles falling from the ceiling and plenty of opportunities for audience participation (yes, they have the dancing bit), this is an enchanting and captivating show that will leave the whole family smiling.
It’s worth noting that this is not a cheap day out. At the 02 event you can easily pay more than £20 for a standard ticket (both adults and children – and more on weekends) and there are plenty of pricey “souvenirs” on offer to catch the eye of toddlers which can add to your bill. However, this is a unique experience that has been extremely well organised and executed and can clearly command a premium.
If you’ve got a little one who loves In the Night Garden, there are few better ways to treat them than with an immersive trip inside their favourite show.
You can see In the Night Garden Live:
02, London until 13th Jun 2015 / Richmond Old Deer Park (20th Jun – 4th Jul) / Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park (11th Jul – 25th Jul) / Manchester, The Trafford Centre (1st Aug – 22nd Aug) / Glasgow, Queen’s Park (29th Aug – 12 Sep)