Puppeteer extraordinaire Toby Olié has adapted Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel The Wolves In The Walls in this enormously fun production for children at the Little Angel Theatre.
Lucy can hear something scratching in the walls of her family home, and she knows it is wolves. Of course, no one else believes her. Mum thinks it is mice, her dad rats and her brother is too devoted to his games console to care. However, Lucy is right and one night the wolves break through the walls to drive the family from their home. Lucy now has to find the courage to take on the wolves and retake what is hers.
Olié’s previous credits include Pinocchio, Peter Pan and War Horse so there is no doubt he knows how to engage a young audience by tapping into their imaginations. In this production, he has once again created something fun and engaging, full of mischief and with a powerful heroine as the central character. The mix of wooden puppets and shadow puppetry successfully recreates the tone of the iconic illustrations by Dave McKean in the original book. Younger audiences will also enjoy the songs written by Carl Grose and Adam Pleath.
The four performers are clearly well rehearsed, as the timing is slick and impressive throughout. Katie Haygarth provides Lucy with a youthful innocence but is especially good when it comes time for Lucy to steel her nerves. Elisa De Grey as Mum, Michael Fowkes as Dad and Matthew Churcher as Brother provide skilled and energetic support and all deliver their songs with gusto.
This is a well-designed and cleverly constructed production that understands its audience and is happy to make the most of their imagination. As an introduction to theatre for small children, this pushes all the right buttons and will excite, amuse and delight them.
Reviewed by Kris Witherington
Photo: Ellie Kurttz