REVIEW – Room on the Broom (The Lowry)

© Helen Warner
© Helen Warner
Date: 8 april 2015
Upstaged Rating: 


Tall Stories Theatre Company are well versed in adapting well-loved children’s stories for the stage. Using their trademark physical theatre style, catchy signature tunes and puppetry – they succeed in appealing to the adults in the audience just as much as they do the children.

And Tall Stories usually present the well-known childhood story with a frame story which serves to entertain the children as they enter the theatre. There is no waiting around for the action to start because as the audience file in to take their seats, the actors are all on stage improvising a camping trip to the woods. What is really clever is that the actors tap into older relatives experiences of a family camping trip too, particularly us parents who might find that we need to have “a ploughmans, a tiramisu and then…a shot!”

The camping trip setting leads through to a Blair Witch-esque sighting of something flying in the sky which leads neatly to the narrative that we have all been eagerly waiting for, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s, Room on the Broom.

Yvette Clutterbuck’s Witch is as scatty as is hinted at in Donaldson’s original story, a good likeable witch who struggles to cast a spell. Luckily, she has a super competent cat with plenty of ideas, a marvellous singing voice and  an endless supply of sweets, played by Emma MacLennan.

As the witch and her cat fly along on their broom stick, they end up making friends with three other animals, who help her retrieve her belongings when they fall to the ground. The puppets, designed by Yvonne Stone, are well characterised by David Garrud, who plays the dog and the frog and Daniel Foxsmith as the green bird. The American country and western singing frog is a particular hit with the young audience, as is the dog, especially when the two puppets swap accents during an exchange. I’m not sure that this was intentional but it was a great source of humour for many in the audience.

Tall Stories Theatre Company, headed up by Artistic Directors Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell,  never fail to delight with their interpretations of Julia Donaldson’s well-loved tales. Although admittedly, Room on the Broom wasn’t my favourite Tall Stories production, they have certainly succeeded in producing superb children’s theatre consistently and they absolutely had the young audience at The Lowry under their spell for the full 55 minutes.

-Kristy Stott

Room on the Broom is at The Lowry, Salford until Sunday 12th April 2015. It then continues the tour at The Lyceum Theatre in Crewe for 14th and 15th April. Room on the Broom continues to tour nationally until 29th August 2015. For further UK tour dates click here.