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REVIEW: The Snail and the Whale at Exeter Northcott Theatre

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: December 19, 2012

The Snail and the Whale at Exeter Northcott Theatre

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Interpreting Julia Donaldson’s story about a snail that hitches a lift on a whale’s tail as a story within a story about a little girl who makes up stories in her bedroom with her dad is an inspired idea. And the result is a lovely piece of theatre.

The cast of three bring this popular children’s classic to life with plenty of fun and audience participation.

It tells the story through a tape sent to the child from her dad while at his job at sea. She becomes the snail with her dad the whale when they set off on their adventures, including the whale getting beached and having to be rescued by village children. By then a rather good whale has been created out of the bedroom furniture and the two actors, whose shared chemistry is strong, are literally on top of it.

This lovely example of fine theatre in miniature is enhanced by the actress playing the grown-up child and her delightful viola playing. Sometimes she creates evocative sound effects – such as the call of the whale or a phone ringing – using a delay pedal. At other times she plays lively folk dance tunes. She also pins the action together as narrator and is fun as the teacher who has the whole audience as her class.

Much of Donaldson’s rhyming, alliterative text is retained and there’s a good song which the audience has learned by the end.

Created in Tall Stories’ unique style, The Snail and the Whale mixes imaginative storytelling, lots of laughs and fantastic new music played live on stage – in a show for everyone aged 4 plus.

Sue Kemp

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