The Slightly Annoying Elephant is the worst and funniest house guest rolled into one.
He eats all the biscuits, hogs the TV, snores loudly, gets water all over the bathroom floor, breaks your bike and your bed, invites all his friends to join him and don’t even ask about his cheeky trumpety trumping.
Sticking closely to the children’s book by David Walliams, Little Angel Theatre company bring to life the enormous bright blue, Slightly Annoying Elephant as a towering puppet with pounding big feet, removable ears and a long rubbery trunk.
It’s rare that an illustrated book is brought so vividly to the stage, and Maia Kirkman-Richards’ puppets (yes, there is more than one elephant) are instantly recognisable as the big, bossy, blue characters created by illustrator, Tony Ross. Although annoying the youngsters in the audience eagerly await him, with squeals of anticipation and shouts of ‘the elephant!’ when the doorbell rings and his thundering steps can be heard off stage.
Sam, who lives in the house, has recently visited the zoo where he signed-up to an adopt an elephant scheme – but did he read the small print? To his surprise the elephant turns up at his house and squeezes its big blue bottom into the living room where he proceeds to make himself comfortably at home and boss Sam around by trumpeting his catch-phrase ‘Silly Boy!’. A series of funny scenarios follow including a shower scene complete with bubbles.
The story is told through words, songs and lots of physical humour. And being in Manchester for the festive season they’ve added a few tram jokes in there for the adults too.
There is no audience interaction in the show, but the performance is very relaxed as children call out to the elephant – completely immersed in the reality of the story. It is aimed at ages 3-8, and while an enjoyable show for all works best for the younger children in this age group who are mesmerised. Staged in the studio Theatre 2 space at Home the performers are almost close enough to touch – and afterwards lots of the youngsters ran to explore the set.
For little ones who may be overwhelmed by the noise and villains of a pantomime, this is a fantastical introduction to theatre, which brings children within touching distance of fun, familiar characters.★ ★ ★ ★
The Slightly Annoying Elephant is at Home, Manchester from 5-29 December 2019.