Room on a Broom

Reviewer's rating

Tall Stories, the company responsible for bringing to life Julia Donaldson classics such as The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale, returns to London this summer with an old favourite, Room on the Broom, at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

This is the well-known tale about a clumsy witch who loses her accoutrements with the same abundant ease that she picks up new friends. In meandering succession, the witch and her cat are joined by a dog, a green bird (essentially, a parrot), and a frog who all help the witch vanquish a dragon (who has a taste for witches) and then conjure up a new broom that is the functional equivalent of a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The narrative is framed in the grand tradition of Victor Fleming’s Wizard of Oz: four campers transform into Donaldson’s story characters with an iggety ziggety zaggety zoom exuberance that punctuates the entire production. Jessica Manu and Hannah Miller are a charming pantomime witch and cat duo. The dog, bird, and frog are cleverly crafted puppets joyfully animated with a happy mixture of humour and panache by Peter Steele (dog and frog) and Jake Waring (bird). However, the undisputed star of the show is Jake Waring’s Welsh dragon, who manifests like an Elvis devised by Axel Scheffler and utterly captivates the audience – no age group is spared.

The songs are rollicky and fun. In many ways, this is children’s theatre at its best – with plenty of audience participation and dry, droll one-line zingers for parents (including some dreadful, yet oddly appreciated puns). A perfect indoor outing this summer, Room on the Broom is particularly recommended for Julia Donaldson fans in the 3-5 age bracket.