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Review: Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play, Northern Stage, Newcastle

Another of Lauren Child's stories has been adapted for an on-stage puppet show, which was "awesome" say Tamzin Mackie's kids

Robert Workman Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play is at Northern Stage for half term
Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play is at Northern Stage for half term

This creation is rather like a theatrical pop-up book where cardboard cut-outs slide, glide and loop the loop.

Based faithfully on the best-selling stories of Lauren Child, the Extremely New Play is a season-by-season year in the life of Charlie and Lola.

Jonathan Lloyd, who has adapted Lauren’s books for the stage, has nicely blended favourites such as Snow is my favourite and my best with We honestly can look after your dog. And although the opening and closing music is from the TV adaptation, the play features a fun soundtrack by Julian Butler.

And as the beauty of Charlie and Lola lies in the detailed collages it is appropriate that a stage adaptation features cardboard puppets, as drawn by Lauren.

Five energetic puppeteers (Phil Yarrow, Emma Reade-Davies, Blake Scott, Megan Crawford, Charlotte Quartermaine) work seamlessly to fill the stage with lo-fi picture book entertainment, complete with clever staging and props.

Watershed Productions’ interpretation of Lola’s imaginative adventures are particularly successful, and I was tickled by a Sizzles scene where the show expands on the ‘very good tricks’ the dog can do.

The puppeteers aren’t doing the talking, which confused by two kids slightly, but they do bring genuine effervescence to the show capturing the spirit of Charlie and Lola.

There is plenty of stuff falling from the sky, and all the children loved the falling leaves, ‘snow’ and bubbles blowing around for the pond scene.

So what did my kids think of the Extremely New Play? “Brilliant” and “awesome” come the answers. A completely good outcome for a wet and windy half term afternoon.

by Tamzin Mackie


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