Thursday, 23 April 2015

Room on the broom at the Corn Exchange

In our household, Room on the Broom scores even more highly than Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s other classic, The Gruffalo, so we were interested to find out whether the Tall Stories production at the Corn Exchange could cast its magic.

It could. Just four actors brought the book to life and managed to hold children, parents and grandchildren spellbound for just under an hour.

Room on the Broom is a simple story about a friendly witch whose hat, bow and wand blow away, and the stage setting reflected that. Dark and sparse, with broomstick-shaped branches on trees and a large full moon background, it was left to the four actors to do everything else – that is, act, sing, narrate the story and manoeuvre the dog, bird and frog puppets at the same time.

With a nod to the Blair Witch Project, the action kicks off with four campers out in the woods, with two kept awake by the others’ snoring. The pair spot the witch and her cat flying overhead on their broomstick and the fun begins.

It’s a colourful and entertaining show with catchy songs and some great children’s comedy. The dancing dragon went down particularly well, and the portrayal of the frog was superb. Not all of the comedy was intentional though- in the version we saw, the actor operating the dog and the frog managed to accidentally switch the voices, causing a mass break out of corpsing onstage. He swiftly saved it by joking that he had a frog in his throat.

We felt that some of the story-telling went on slightly too long and a little bit more audience interaction would have been appreciated, but overall, this was a fun piece of children’s theatre that will have us humming the “Iggety Ziggety Zaggety Zoom” song for many bedtimes to come.

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