“Where’s the frog?” my three-year-old kept asking as we watched the Tall Stories cast take to the stage at York Theatre Royal.
There were four actors who made up the Room on the Broom company but he’s sharp as a tack and knew that the lead character in this story – the witch – has four passengers wanting to join her on her broom.
While her spells might not have had the desired effect, this show was filled with magic as we were introduced to the cat, the dog, the bird and the frog.
The 55-minute show adapts and enhances Julia Donaldson‘s text with songs, funny details and extra scenes, such as a group of four campers who spot the broomstick flying through the sky and the witch’s penchant for Jelly Babies.
The two women cast members play the witch and her cat – a classic comedy duo of eccentric absentmindedness (the witch) and dependable cynic (the cat).
The two men take the role of puppeteers to the other creatures and the skill in which the cast moved these animal props between them as needed was slick and seamless.
There were catchy tunes and plenty of humorous asides intend to entertain the adults, like the bird’s reference to putting towels on sun loungers after migrating south for winter.
When the frog finally arrived, he had a southern American drawl that we were charmed by. No wonder the witch let this green hitchhiker add to her load.
Equally charming was the dragon, with his booming Welsh accent that reminded me of home, even if he was singing about having witch and chips for tea.
I worried that this character might prove scary for the preschool audience but they were in fits of laughter when he came into the stalls to suggest what he might eat them with.
“Eat my mummy,” cackled my son.
One of my favourite touches was the way the cast made the broom ‘fly’ and their subtle movements to create that illusion of flying through the wind and items falling to earth.
Combined with the simple set based around broom motifs, it created a perfect atmosphere for this spooky but not scary tale.
As with most of Julia Donaldson and Axel Schleffer’s books, all’s well that ends well.
The dragon is scared off, the witch gains a renewed appreciation for her feline sidekick and the fantastic five fly off into the night on a truly magnificent new broom, trailing magic dust behind them (and a catchy song in our heads).
All together now: “Iggety Ziggety Zaggety Zoom! I’ve got a truly magnificent broom…”
Room on the Broom is touring the UK until April 2023. Find out more and books tickets at tallstories.org.uk.
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