Alongside Alfie & Annie Rose, Paddington and Stick Man, The Tiger Who Came To Tea is one of my favourite children’s books. A tiger joins Mummy and Sophie for afternoon tea. He eats all the food in the house, drinks all the drink (including all the water in the tap and all of Daddy’s beer…but doesn’t touch Mummy’s gin, thank goodness!!) then says goodbye, leaving Mummy, Daddy and Sophie having to go to a local cafe for sausages, chips and ice cream! What’s not to like?!
The images from the book, published in 1968, are charmingly beautiful and this quaintness is perfectly recreated in the set and costumes of the stage version…right down to Sophie’s wonderful tights! As we entered the theatre the set was already on view and I must admit, it brought a tear to my eye, as it really did look like we had stepped into the pages of the book.
The show itself is padded out with some extra scenes, taking it to just under an hour. We see breakfast and lunch as well as tea and supper, we actually meet the milkman (and the postman makes an appearance too) and Daddy doesn’t just appear at the end, as in the book, he has some rather comic moments before he goes off to the office! And of course, as this is children’s theatre, there are some catchy songs as well!
The tiger himself looks a little scarier than the one in the book but soon reveals a rather camp, friendly personality so endears himself to the audience within minutes. He doesn’t speak, like he does in the book, which did bother me at first, but then I decided that this was actually a good thing as I’m sure he wouldn’t be able to say, “Excooooooooooose me, but I’m verrrrrry hungry” as well as my Little Miss can, anyway!! He performed some rather cool magic tricks as well which had me flummoxed, never mind the children!
The actors are suitably jolly and overly enthusiastic and the whole atmosphere was just delightful! Definitely one of the best pieces of children’s theatre we’ve seen so far!
We managed to catch the show on one of its regional tours but it is returning to the West End this Summer to celebrate its 10th year and 50 years since the publication of the book. It’s on at the Piccadilly Theatre (W1D 7DY) from the 28th June till the 9th September and then will be in Dorking from 22nd-24th October and Birmingham from 26th December till 13th January!