Croydon hosts Tiger who Came to Tea
It is a roaring-good tail from many a childhood, and now The Tiger Who Came to Tea is coming to Croydon. The Olivier Award-nominated stage production was adapted from Judith Kerr’s 1968 picture book by David Wood four years ago, and is being performed at the Fairfield Halls next Monday and Tuesday.
The children’s writer and producer, who is behind many successful theatre shows including The Fantastic Mr Fox and George’s Marvellous Medicine, says that this particular project was close to his heart.
Wood, who lives in Sutton, says: “When the opportunity came, I was delighted because it was a favourite book of my two daughters, and I never thought of adapting it at that time.”
The funny and touching story of a tiger who eats poor Sophie and her mum out of house and home seems likely to present some staging challenges. But Wood believes the fantastical elements of the book allowed for more creativity in the show.
He says: “It is a very surreal story, and because of that, we are able to use a lot of magic on stage. “I am a member of the Magic Circle and we even had a magic advisor to make food disappear from cupboards and fridges. The food being eaten is such an important part of the story.”
The tricks and original soundtrack undoubtedly make for exciting viewing for children of pre-school age, but Wood is certain that the show can be enjoyed by all ages. He says: “There is an adult audience – the play has a certain sense of nostalgia. Very often the whole family, including older children, come along because they remember the original book with affection.”
Despite its wide-ranging appeal, Wood insists he never patronises the youngest members of the audience.
His plays differ entirely from the conventions of pantomime, because he rejects innuendo and the tongue-in-cheek acting style that only the older members of the audience would understand.
Instead, his shows, including The Tiger Who Came to Tea, value the young as perhaps the most important members of audience.
He says: “It is wrong to have stuff that is put in only for adults – it goes over children’s heads and confuses them.
“I see entertaining children as a huge challenge. Unlike shows for adults, we don’t have the right to fail, because this is aimed at a first time theatre audience. “If we get it wrong, we are in danger of losing them forever.”
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon, June 4 and 5. Tickets cost £10 but a group booking discount is available. Call 020 8688 9291 for more.