So here we are, post Christmas excess, trying to avoid the temptation of the sales, and what do we plan to do?
Why head into central London to the theatre of course! Why not?! In fact, why not set off on public transport at rush hour to try and get to a theatre for 10am, in the snow...that seams like a good idea...right?
For once, actually, this was the right idea. For once this worked better then we could have hoped...for once we all survived without trying to kill each other, or anyone else.
One of the husband’s Christmas presents was a trip to see Tall Story’s ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ at the Lyric theatre. It would be The Girl’s first theatre trip. Inadvertently, it would be The Boy’s first theatre trip as well but he really can’t appreciate that fact at the moment.
We set off into town at about 8am, rushing to get ready in time because we had missed our first alarm (have I mentioned The Boy dosen’t sleep?!) Have you ever tried to get a toddler, and infant and two grown adults from sleeping to leaving the house in 30 minutes? Thank goodness for Grandparents who are able to feed small people while mummy attempts to make herself look human before faceing the public.
Public transport was amazing - you can’t always say that - seriously, amazing. We walked straight onto a bus, the train arrived in 3 minutes and we walked straight into a second bus which pulled up just as we arrived at the bus stop. Even in rush hour we got a seat (baby in a Connecta and toddler tottering along helps with that a bit).
We arrived at the theatre 45 minutes early (what is this ‘early’ you speak of?!) and parked ourselves in a nearby McDonald’s to shelter from the snow and feed the grown-ups (we had fed children but not, of course, ourselves). A nice member of staff took pity on us and dug out a happy meal toy despite us not buying any kind of happy meal. ‘Freckles,’ the tiny Ty leopard was an early hit with The Girl and before long it was time to head to the theatre-it was Gruffalo time!
Given our recent experience with fireworks, we were risking The Girl having a terrified toddler meltdown, and early doors it looked like this was what we were going to get. The stairs up to the upper circle were, apperantly, ‘scawry’ and required a carry. The slightly dimly lit theatre, with the deep dark wood lit on stage was also, apperantly, ‘scawry.’ But we got over that once the performance started.
Actually, both children loved the show. At 2 and a half, The Girl is really a little under the recommend ‘3 and up,’ but she followed the story (‘No Don’t go! Don’t go into the wood!’) and loved the songs. The Boy flapped his arms and legs and watched, captivated, for about 15 mins before getting cranky and going on a boob to fall asleep. He only woke up with the clapping at the end. A train and a bus and another bus was enough for him, sometimes it’s enough for The Girl as well.
The production itself was great. Well tempered for small people, with enough costume and set to be effective without inducing sensory overload in either of the children. The performance was quite physical, and held the toddlers interest throughout. The only scary bit, right at the end, was short-lived and carefully managed, leaving enough time for a ‘but it's alright really’ round-up. True to the story (which we had read a couple of times the day before) it captured the feel of the book (a bit dark but not really scary). The performers were excellent, full of energy throughout with bold characterisations which were easy for little ones to grasp.
I would take both to see something by Tall Stories again, except their current show ‘Wilde Creatures’ is a little to old for The Girl (5 and up) so we will have to wait for something else to pop up. I had considered the pantomime for this trip, but at 55 minutes or so run time and a 10am start this was a much more child friendly option for all of us. We could be back home before it got to dark or to cold or, indeed, before The Girl got too cranky.
This trip was a risk, but it paid off. A seasonal reminder that it is often worth taking a bit of a risk. In this case it wasn’t even overly expensive, despite it being west-end theatre, albeit baby-theatre!
Thank you transport gods for helping us out on this one. Two happy children and and a relatively stress free trip for the grown ups.
Shame we couldn’t have brought the dog along to this one!