Anthropomorphising is a little lost on me at the best of times and I confess that the appeal of Peppa Pig and her pals rather bemuses me. But what do I know? I’m not two years old. Whatever the creators have done, they have done spectacularly well and have hit the zeitgeist of the world of young British children with a wallop worthy of a Wimbledon final.
The latest tour to showcase the popular TV cartoon characters is Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt. Well, the title says it all. The well-loved and well-known chums (at least some of them) Peppa, George, Danny Dog, Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra are all aboard on a day’s adventure to follow the clues and find their treasure, laughing with little legs in the air (nearly) all the while. They have morphed from moving figures on a flat screen to three dimensional hand operated puppets that manage to look as though the cartoons have come to life. My two year old companion was mesmerised from the word ‘go’.
The simple set is a cartoon writ large with a big yellow sun drawn on a bright blue sky, and green grassy mounds dotted with flowers. The Pig Family arrives by car from the distance creating clever perspective by using three vehicles for each stage of the journey. Simple and impressive, it was. The effervescent Charlotte Sullivan plays Daisy, the human go-between and leader of song singing, leads us through bushes to mountains and woods till we reach the very treasure island, all courtesy of the versatile multi vehicle driving and boat steering Miss Rabbit (‘I’ve more than one job!’).
The cast manages to be intimate in a big space and get the already on-board audience to join in the jolly songs with ease. The role of the puppeteers was unusual. They were dressed in black but were not unobtrusive. In fact they were, to a greater or lesser degree, playing the parts as virtually the only animation was the puppets’ mouths through which they provided the voices. One puppeteer was a real, lively extension of the puppet, Zoe Zebra, (sorry it is not clear who this was) almost matching the vivacious Daisy herself.
The most magical element for me was the underwater scene. The stage was brought to black where fluorescent star fish, jellyfish and sea horses danced across. It was fabulous and the crab was funny. A high spot of the show.
The show told a simple story in an engaging way that had a few children dancing in the aisles but the ingenuity seems to lie in clever marketing. With tickets at £16 (£14 concession) and expensive merchandise on sale before and after the show, there were not that many smiles in view.