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Review: The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark at Norden Farm
IF you’re in the mood for a festive dose of make-believe and storytelling for the kids in the run-up to Christmas, then the latest delightful production to swoop in to Norden Farm in Maidenhead may be just the thing.
Blunderbus productions is bringing to life the story of The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark, by author Jill Tomlinson – and giving it a yuletide makeover in the process.
It tells the story of Plop the barn owl, who lives with his father and who – annoyingly for a nocturnal bird – is scared of the dark.
We follow Plop’s encounters with a boy who loves fireworks and teaches him the dark can be exciting, an woman who teaches him the night can be kind and a boy scout who shows him it can also be plenty of fun.
And, given the festive time of year, it seems fitting that this telling of Plop’s adventures take place in the days before Christmas, when the night can also bring the ringing of sleigh bells and a stocking full of presents.
The show is great fun for kids – our two-and-a-half-year-old son was captivated from the start and thoroughly enjoyed the entire production. It’s not often he sits that still and that quietly for an hour, so the actors clearly did a cracking job of amusing him.
The three-strong cast are also clearly having great fun, hurtling round the stage like kids themselves, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Greeting and chatting to the young audience as they enter the theatre, the show starts to warm up the second your ticket is checked.
Plop’s story is told with a mix of actors in owl costumes, charmingly low-tech puppetry and a bit of audience participation (dads beware – you may end up having to pretend to be a firework or a Christmas tree) – and it works wonders.
There are bits that may be hard to follow for the very young, though – Plop’s encounters with his three new dark-loving friends could have been made a bit more distinct from each other, perhaps with an extra prop or two on stage or a change in the lighting.
But this is a very minor quibble in what is a thoroughly charming and engaging show.
All of the children in the performance we saw seemed to enjoy it immensely and it makes a winning and good-natured alternative to the more bombastic pantos doing the rounds at this time of year.
The show, recommended for children three-years-old and over, runs throughout the month, every day except Mondays (although there is a showing on Christmas Eve) and Christmas Day with a final performance on December 30.
Most days have two shows. It costs £9.50 for under-16s and £11.50 for adults, £40 for a family ticket (with group deals also available).
For more information or to book, call 01628 788997 or at www.nordenfarm.org