The Tiger Who Came to Tea is an Olivier Award-nominated smash hit show that has been running now for 12 years and we were lucky enough to have this touring stage show come to The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke. As big fans of the book, we were very excited to be invited along to review it.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea Story
If you aren’t familiar with this Judith Kerr book the story is about a little girl called Sophie, her Mum and her Dad. One day, whilst Dad is out at work, the doorbell rings and when Sophie answers it she is amazed to find a Tiger. A Tiger who wants to join them for tea! Only, he doesn’t just eat a few sandwiches, in fact, he eats everything in their home plus he drinks the taps dry!
“The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big, furry, stripy tiger!”
With nothing left in the house and no water to have a bath, the family choose to go to a cafe for their supper and the next day they stock back up on food and drink as well as a large can of Tiger food, in case the Tiger should ever return…
The Tiger Who Came To Tea Theatre Show closely follows the story in the book with a few extras thrown in to make it fun, interactive and with songs that everyone can join in with. The running time is 55 minutes with no interval which is just perfect for smaller children (recommended for ages 3+). When we took the boys to the theatre just before Christmas to see a pantomime, our youngest (4) did struggle a little bit during the second half due to the length of it so this show was timed just right for his attention span.
This show has been carefully thought about in terms of being engaging for a younger audience and the use of repetitive words, encouraging them to shout and join in, asking the children for input, asking them to sing and do actions all had them enthralled.
The 3 actors playing Sophie, Mum and Dad were really well cast – Sophie, in particular, was brilliant as she was played by an adult but you honestly didn’t really notice as she had the part spot on. I always think it must be quite hard to be on stage with such a small cast but this just worked. “Dad” also played the parts of the milkman and the postman which were little additions that are mentioned in the book but the play brought them to life. It just added another level to the story. And then, of course, there’s the Tiger…
The excitement from the children as the Tiger began to appear was just so fantastic to see and hear. I glanced over at William and I have never, ever seen him look so excited at something like this (he’s a quiet one, a thinker, not often letting on what he thinks of things)
The Tiger really looks impressive. He is large, his tail moves, he has these smooth cat-like movements and even though he doesn’t talk, he has this charisma about him, plus, he didn’t need to talk, not with the audience we had around us – the kids knew the story inside out! I was absolutely loving their call outs and interaction, some children were just hilarious. This is why I love the theatre, it’s the whole atmosphere you get, not just the show. I think my favourite part was when Sophie said we bought a tin of Tiger food in case he ever came again and a kid shouted (perfectly timed) “he won’t!” I was crying with laughter!
The show works quickly and seamlessly with costume changes, the food and drinks disappearing as the Tiger devours them, the lighting and the use of the one set. It seems so simple but there is obviously a lot going on.
This show is ideal for pre-school aged kids, especially if it is their first time at a theatre. My other child is 8 and even though he was a little reluctant to go as he thought it would be a bit young for him, as they had the songs and actions he happily got fully involved and said he really enjoyed it all. It was a lovely way to spend an hour together and introduce the children to more theatre shows.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea is only on at the Haymarket this weekend 4th-6th February 2022 but you can check more dates of its tour here.
*We were provided with press tickets in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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