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Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – Richmond Theatre, London

Original creators: Neville Astley and Mark Baker

Reviewer: Ann Bawtree

[rating:4]

benholyWell known to viewers of Cbeebie’s, Ben and Holly’s live show of some of the Little Kingdom tales will not fail to delight its fans. The production, playing this weekend at Richmond Theatre and then on tour, was enjoyed by an enthralled audience of two to five years olds and their adult attendants.

Characters appearing this time include, besides Ben the Elf and Holly the Fairy Princess, Gaston the ladybird, Nanny Plum the Tooth Fairy, Lucy the little girl and King Thistle, whose birthday is celebrated in song and dance.

The costumes are cleverly cartoon-like without appearing expressionless thanks to the choreography and the fairies’ radio controlled, battery-powered wings flutter delightfully. Gaston, barking like a terrier, rolls smoothly across the stage, his many legs appearing to carry him with a graceful gait.

There was much audience participation, enjoyed by both young and not so young alike and although there is some commercial merchandising of spinning wands, whirling and sparkling with migraine inducing glitter, this is not overdone. The programmes, at £5 each, are well presented souvenirs, which along with the mandatory ice cream, makes for a pricey afternoon. At one and a quarter hours the show was a little long for the youngest theatre-goers but offered good value to its aficionados.

On a country-wide tour until August 2013

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