Theatre Review: Mr Popper’s Penguins

You many remember that last year we went to the Waterside Arts Theatre in Sale (which has to be, in our opinion, one of the friendliest theatres in the country!) to watch Pins and Needles‘ super production of Father Christmas. We were therefore very excited when we were invited back this year to their Christmas production, Mr Popper’s Penguins.

N.B. We were provided with Press tickets for the purpose of this review.

Picture © Jason Lock

Mr Popper’s Penguins is a novel by Richard and Florence Atwater which was adapted into a movie starring Jim Carrey in 2011 and has been adapted perfectly for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions. Mr Popper is a painter and decorator who is bored of his life in a sleepy town called Stillwater and dreams of Antarctic adventures. One day, a packing crate arrives with a penguin inside, whom Mr and Mrs Popper adopt and name Captain Cook. Captain Cook soon becomes lonely however, so another penguin, Greta, arrives and before long they have lots of babies and the house becomes full of penguins! Soon, the penguins are eating Mr and Mrs Popper out of house and home so they come up with a solution: a troop of performing penguins!

Picture © Jason Lock

The show is perfectly pitched for its target audience of 4-7 year olds but it’s great for adults too – my husband and I adored it just as much as our children. The puppetry of the penguins is truly outstanding and the penguins are brought to life masterfully by Benedict Chambers and Susanna Jennings. Zoe Squire’s set has a retro charm and, although it is simple, it is cleverly and effectively used. There are some really heartwarming and touching moments, as well as lots of comedy, and the show has a fun family-friendly feel throughout with its catchy songs and clever script being delivered with energetic enthusiasm by the 4 fabulous actors: Will Kelly, Monica Nash, Benedict Chambers and Susanna Jennings.

Picture © Jason Lock

This production of Mr Popper’s Penguins is a perfect example of family friendly theatre at its best and we highly recommend it as a wonderful festive treat! Pins and Needles productions state that they are “passionate about finding imaginative, playful ways to tell stories and create work that is full of heart, humour and magic” and this aim is most certainly met, if not surpassed, in this production! It runs at the Waterside Arts Theatre in Sale until 29th December and you can get your tickets here.

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