“I’m excited!” (Not me, my toddler). This outburst, accompanied by jumping up and down, occurred this afternoon as we went down the steps at Limehouse DLR station. She knew we were heading for the Half Moon theatre. And, actually, maybe I was excited too. I’m really pleased about her enthusiasm for going to theatre and I hope it lasts.
Our first trip was shortly after her second birthday, and we’ve been maybe four or five times in total. This afternoon, it was Handa’s Hen, a Little Angel theatre production that’s touring the country and will be at Stratford Circus in 17-19 March 2016 (get tickets!), then at the Little Angel theatre for a longer run.
You might be familiar with the book (which is good for kids learning to count), and the play doesn’t stray far from it. Handa and her friend Akeyo are doing chores for grandma, and they’re supposed to be looking after her hen, Mondi. But where is Mondi?
Handa and Akeyo very sweetly entertain each other while hanging out the washing for grandma. They sing, they dance, they leapfrog, they wave brightly coloured materials around and play the odd trick on each other.
At the same time, they spot all sorts of animals, starting with two fluttering butterflies, three stripey mice, four lizards, five sunbirds etc. All of these fantastic puppets are brought right up close to the audience. Little hands reach out to touch them.
But where is Mondi?
The audience is nicely arranged, with the chance for little ones to sit on cushions on the front. Mums and dads can sit nearby (if they avoid blocking the view) or on chairs at the back.
The performance lasted a toddler-friendly 35 or so minutes. At the end, the stage area was filled with puppets of insects, birds and animals. And there was the chance to meet Mondi herself, who makes a scene stealing appearance at the end.
If you’d like to take your toddler to the theatre and you live in East London, there are loads of opportunities. Have a look at what’s on at:
- Half Moon theatre, Limehouse (what’s on, click here)
- Stratford Circus, Stratford (what’s on, click here)
- The Little Angel theatre, Islington (what’s on, click here)
Tickets for Handa’s Hen were £8 for children and £10 for adults, but look out for cheaper deals like £5 for Friday 5pm performances at the Little Angel.