I took my five year old niece to see Little Angel Theatre’s latest puppet recreation of a well loved children’s story book and we weren’t disappointed. The theatre itself was relatively easy to find, though off the beaten track, through a park behind Islington’s Upper Street – a fairly nice walk on a mostly summery day. An adaption of the David Walliam’s book The Slightly Annoying Elephant, at only 45 minutes long this musical comedy play was just the right length to keep the little ones enthralled and their grownups alike.

The story of The Slightly Annoying Elephant follows a boy who has been tricked into properly adopting a big blue elephant, blissfully unaware of his plans for moving in and with multiple elephant friends on their way for an extended stay.

Much comedy ensues, with the constant threat that the Elephant and then his friends and relatives, may permanently wreck the house before the little boy’s mum gets home. The Elephant puppet is more of an entire costume for actress Elaine Hartley – beautifully realised and with much potential for visual comedy, Elaine embodies the pompously comic and VERY annoying troublesome Elephant with aplomb and vigour. She is matched in performance by Heidi Goldsmith as the put upon boy, doing his best to meet the Elephant’s demands and we feel his despair at the ensuing situation, however comic. Musically too, both actors carry tuneful and catchy incidental songs and the actors deserved their applause at the end, in a magical and funny children’s show (adapted and directed by the talented Samantha Lane).

My niece did have a few questions; she wasn’t too keen on the Elephant’s endlessly detaching ears (to create the passing of time, or to represent an aeroplane) and kept asking me “why did he do that again”; similarly kept asking why a very obvious girl was playing a boy (I made a mental note that I must take her to more traditional pantos). Overall however, we both had a really lovely time with a great set, innovative props and costume and talented performances to match. A lovely afternoon out.

Reviewed by Nicole Faraday

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