REVIEW: Classic children’s story successfully transferred on to the stage

Dear Zoo at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds

Classic children’s lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo was brought to colourful life at the Theatre Royal by Norwell Lapley Productions.

The Rod Campbell book, first published in 1982, tells the simple story of a young boy called Ben who writes to the Zoo requesting a pet.

Dear Zoo at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds - Clara meets Sally

An exuberant Ben and his friend Sally were visited by Zookeeper Sam, who delivered various (unsuitable) animals to their home before they were each sent back.

The elephant was too big, the giraffe too tall, the toad too jumpy, and the camel too grumpy (you get the drift).

When the naughty monkey appeared, my 18-month-old daughter Clara waved and shouted ‘hello’ in high spirits, before he danced around the stage mischievously.

Eventually the zoo had a long think and delivered something a bit more appropriate to Ben...but I won’t tell you what creature arrived in case you don’t know already.

The whole production was full of energy and cleverly pitched at its audience, particularly with a running time of 55 minutes.

At the end of the show, the cast went to the theatre’s Greene Room bar to say hello to young theatregoers. While most other children stood at a distance and waved, Clara ran up and hugged Sally before transferring her attentions to the monkey.

And her overall verdict? Well, she enjoyed it so much she had a tantrum when we eventually left, so I think it gets the toddler thumbs-up.

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