I consider myself an adventurous parent. We’ve continued all the hobbies we used to have before becoming parents…..
…..and have simply taken our firstborn, 20-month-old Edward, along for the ride: cycling, hiking, swimming – we’ve even just invested in some kayaks for us. Yet for some reason, I’ve been reluctant to take Edward to the theatre. I think I’ve been concerned over whether a theatre show can hold his attention or if he’d just get bored and restless.
‘The Snow Mouse’ was the absolutely ideal show to begin his foray into the world of theatre. Designed for young toddlers, the hypnotic lights and relaxing music, as well as a charming mouse puppet, captivated Edward from the second we walked in; as well making the adults feel like they could fall asleep! The time length of 40 minutes was also ideal, and at no point did Edward become bored. His eyes were fully transfixed on the production for the entire time.
This one-woman show, performed beautifully by the innocently charismatic Gabrielle Sheppard and directed by Nikki Warwick, shows us an afternoon of playing in the snow with a mouse, a simple concept which allowed for much spirited gallivanting; building a snowman, slipping on ice and even sledging. Edward was laughing out loud at many of the silly dances and scenarios the snow mouse especially was involved in, and the rest he was literally mesmerized with. Not only was Gabrielle interacting both with the audience and the snow, she also then took on the role of controlling the mouse puppet in such a fluid way that the children definitely believed the puppet was alive.
The venue itself was highly original, being in one of Leeds Playhouse‘s very small side theatres. The whole floor, including where the audience was sitting, was covered in a soft white carpet, with cushions all over the floor. The fluffy white trees and moving soft blue lights made this feel as if we were walking into a winter’s grotto with full credit going to the designer, Edwina Bridgeman. The close proximity to the performance space meant that the toddlers could instantly connect with the action on stage.
This show would be mesmerising for newborn babies all the way up to toddlers, although I think those over the age of three would become disengaged as it didn’t quite have the pace needed to keep them captivated. However, the beauty about the Playhouse’s Christmas programme is that there is another play, ‘The Night Before Christmas’, that is designed more for older toddlers and young children. In addition to that, there is also ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which is suitable for children and adults alike. This main production of theirs is always highly original and entertaining; indeed, I go to this every year and have had my tickets booked since June.
For our youngest children, however, ‘The Snow Mouse’ simply cannot be beaten on Christmas spirit and total engagement. It has eased my anxiety about taking Edward to the theatre and I’ve just bought him a ticket to see ‘In The Night Garden’ at the Playhouse as a Christmas present, based on how well he reacted to this show.
If you want to see the ‘Snow Mouse’ then you need to hurry as the last few remaining tickets are selling fast. If you’re unable to see this show then I highly encourage you to try one of the other toddler specific shows that the Playhouse regularly runs. We need to keep theatre alive in Leeds and exposing our young children to the magic it has to offer at such a young age is just one way in which we can do this.