Friday, 22 January 2010

Guest Review - Flat Stanley at Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre

The wonderful Jo Beaufoix has reviewed Flat Stanley at Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre for New Mummy's Tips

Jo Beaufoix is an aquarious with two kids aged 4 and 9, she loves chocolate and she once met Grotbags from Emu’s pink windmill show! To find out the other 18 fantastic facts about her read this and then read her fabulous blog.

If anyone had told me that a cast of 4, minimal props, and an hour long show with no breaks, would keep a very wriggly 4 year old Miss M in her seat, I would never have believed it. In fact, I'd have probably bet you a pound of chocolate, my favourite shoes, and my left ventricle that it could never be. But Lakeside's presentation of Jeff Brown's well loved story, Flat Stanley, did just that.

With a bright and vivid set patterned by coloured lighting gels, and the occasional 'special effect' that left Miss M tugging on my arm;

Miss M: Is that boy really flat Mummy?..

this cast of 4 were totally believable in their roles, and although at least three of them played more than one character, Miss M and her 3 year old friend never once seemed confused.

Splitting the tale into 5 chapters, high-lighted by a song and a numbered box filled with props rising from the floor, broke the show into digestible chunks. The tunes were well performed and catchy enough to still be humming them a few weeks later, and although specially adapted for the pre-school audience, the performance also appealed to older children and I'm sure 9 year old Miss E would have found it just as entertaining.

As a Mum, what made the show even more eenjoyable was the venue! Small and intimate, there was enough of a crowd to excite but not to overwhelm, and when the cast waved goodbye it was as if they truly could look at each individual child and share a smile. Miss M and her friend were mesmerized.

The added bonus of a warm and friendly staff (who kindly led me to a back exit when Miss M was desperate for the loo about three quarters of the way through) engendered a very comfortable and almost homely feel, and they were happy to interact with the children and seemed to see them as little people rather than sticky little monsters to be shushed and cleaned up after.

The building itself is modern and fresh, set amidst the beautiful grounds of Nottingham University Park. The duck filled lake is an added attraction, and I imagine it is a beautiful place to sit and drink coffee in warmer weather.

The cafe sold a variety of quality food, and there was plenty to satisfy both grown ups and children. The small play area and 'Flat Stanley' themed gallery, was clean and bright and kids were encouraged to explore the area without fear of 'the look' from either staff or parents.

We were able to buy the book there, but this wasn't 'in your face sales' and we didn't feel pressured in any way.

All in all, Flat Stanley was a wonderful experience and I have no doubt the Beaufoix family will be returning to the Lakeside very soon. In fact we've already checked out the upcoming events, and recommended it to a few friends.

Sadly we saw Flat Stanley on the final day. But this was their fourth Christmas Production and I have no doubt there will be another next year which we will definitely attend. And, when you consider the cost of many shows aimed at children, the price of £7 a ticket is a pleasant surprise.

Thank you so much for hosting us Lakeside, and for up and coming events please visit the site, and for children's events including hands on art sessions visit here You really won't regret it.

Lakeside Art Centre


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