Yesterday we went to the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon to see a show. I haven’t been to the Polka Theatre in literally 25 years but I have such fond memories of going there to see a show about the war when I was at primary school and I left feeling like I had been right there in the show. Whenever I hear of the Polka Theatre that feeling comes flooding back and to say I was excited to take the children somewhere I loved myself as a child was an understatement. I just couldn’t wait.
The Polka Theatre was the first theatre dedicated to children in the UK. It hosts so many shows for children of all ages as well as workshops for children too. It’s a great venue, in the heart of Wimbledon with plenty of transport links making accessible from London and the South East.
We visited the Polka Theatre to see Babe, the Sheep Pig, a story that Hubby, the children and I are all familiar with. We’ve watched the motion picture with the children and so they knew that the show was about a pig, and sheep. But none of us expected the show we actually saw.
Babe, the Sheep Pig starts with characters dressed as sheep just milling around on the stage. They were there whilst the seats were still filling and before the lights were dimmed and it got the children used to the format of the show. The stage was made to look like a field and it was all so realistic, with atmospheric lighting and a haze to the air that really helped to draw you in to the story.
When the lights went down and the show started all of us could just see sheep on the stage, they were no longer people – they were farm animals. They switched between characters with ease, adding just a hat or other props to immediately become someone else.
Soon after the show started we were introduced to Babe, a puppet style pig. He was controlled with levers on his back but was just so realistic, and he moved so naturally that it was easy to forget the person moving him and all we saw was a pig on stage.
The whole show was full of these puppets and amazing costumes that made the characters so believable and it was so easy to get sucked into the story, being right there in the field or on the farm with the characters.
Babe, the Sheep Pig was full of music, songs and chants that were both entertaining and expressive. They really added to the story and helped the characters emotions come across. Fly, the sheepdog, was a really integral character to the story and her emotions were clearly portrayed in both acting but also song. She was also great at getting the audience to participate and she was definitely one of the children’s favourite characters.
The show tells the story of Babe learning how to be a sheepdog – or sheep-pig in his case. It’s quite dark in places – featuring sheep worriers, rustlers and quite a nerve wracking end to the first act. But, it’s also a story of working hard, aiming for something you really want to achieve and making friends along the way.
The children absolutely loved Babe, the Sheep Pig and Hubby and I thought it was one of the most innovative shows we have ever seen. The use of puppets can make or break a show – and in this case they were key parts that you couldn’t help but believe. The whole show was spectacular.
Babe, the Sheep Pig is running at the Polka Theatre until February and you can find the full list of dates here. After that Babe, the Sheep Pig will be going on tour around the country – full venue listing and dates can be found here. It’s definitely one to go and see.
Disclosure: We were invited to the above show for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.