UK group Tall Stories’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s award winning children’s book The Snail and the Whale is the latest piece on offer through Kids in the House at the Sydney Opera House. It is an inventive and enjoyable tale of a snail who is desperate to go on an adventure to see the world, so goes for a ride on the tail of a whale.
It is a moving and ingenious piece of story telling which combines the key elements of the book with an overarching narrative about a little girl whose father is often away on a boat. It deals thoughtfully with the themes of family and being apart from loved ones.
The little girl, like the snail, would love to see the world but is told she is too small, too young and that it’s too dangerous. The story of the snail beautifully parallels the story of the little girl. The relationship she has with her father is wonderful and parents will easily see themselves in some of the things the father says and does, particularly in order to get his little girl into bed.
The performance is creatively staged and retold with really engaging performances from the three actors who are guaranteed to keep little audience members enthralled. The set moves effortlessly to recreate scenes of adventure, story telling and the giant humpback whale.
The two stories remind us that even if the people you love are far away they do not forget you and friendships can be found in unlikely places.
Audience participation is actively encouraged and shouts and squeals of delight featured prominently throughout the just under 1 hour performance. My children aged 5 and 3 loved the Ninja Crab and Karate Cuttlefish and were lively participants in penguin impersonations and were giggling every time the actors entered the audience in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
As always, The Opera House puts on fantastic foyer entertainment for pre and post show viewing. When I saw the Lego construction area I wondered if I’d ever get my children out of there and into the Playhouse, but they were so excited to see the performance that they came if not willingly then at least cooperatively. Staff from Taronga Zoo were also on hand to let the kids touch pythons, lizards as well as a very well behaved and patient echidna!
The Snail and the Whale is a beautiful story lovingly recreated with a lovely message that even those who are small have the ability to make a difference and that friendship and love are very important indeed.
The Snail and the Whale is playing at The Sydney Opera House until Saturday 17 January 2015. Click here for show times and to book tickets.