REVIEW: MR POPPERS PENGUINS (Southend Palace Theatre) ★★★★

russell-morton-mr-popper-toby-manley-male-puppeteer-lucy-grattan-female-puppeteer-roxanne-palmer-mrs-popper-credit-helen-murray-2-700x455Mr Popper loves anything to do with the South Pole. He reads every book in the library and listens to everything on the radio about it. One day, his letter is read out on a radio show and he is told to keep an eye out for a gift through the post! When a crate arrives with a Penguin inside, Mr and Mrs Popper are in shock but raise the animal as their own child, keeping the windows open all year around, letting him sleep in the fridge and making sure he doesn’t eat the goldfish! But Captain Cook (the Penguin) starts to get lonely on his own. One day, a lady Penguin arrives from London Zoo (who have noticed their Penguin is in need of some company too). They are all one happy family until a whole load of baby penguins appear and the house is over run with animals. Mr and Mrs Popper house train the animals and form a performing act of magic performing Penguins who become famous and tour around the world! Hooray!

There are a few flaws to the story. I wouldn’t recommend encouraging children that it is ok to crawl inside of the fridge and shut the door (as that could have disastrous consequences) and it seemed odd that the London Zoo sent a Penguin to a random family and didn’t tell Mr Popper to bring his Penguin to them instead but I don’t think the three year olds in the audience considered these things and I don’t think it will trouble them once they grow up!

The cast members of the show all do a great job with puppetry of the Penguins (who at times look like they are running around on unicycles) and the show is well written and very funny. The ending is emotional and I found myself welling up as the story came to its end.

As far as kids shows go this is certainly up there with the best of them (The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom also being my favourites). The show is coming to London this Christmas and its well worth taking the little ones to!

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Helen Murray

MR POPPERS PENGUINS plays at the Criterion Theatre 15-31 December 2016. Tickets here