The Little Beasts (WORKSHOP PRODUCTION)
The Other Palace, London
Seen on July 15th, 2017
Reviewed by Jade Prince
I’m sure we have all wondered at some point ‘what happens to naughty children?’. Well, we may be one step closer to answering this as a new musical has put forward a possible suggestion, in the form of animals! The Little Beasts tells the story of a little girl called Sam (Laura Baldwin) who’s been overcome with selfishness and has a track record of running away. It only takes one coincidental meeting of the man in black (Sebastien Torkia) to highlight the error of her ways. His magical menagerie is filled with animals. But where did these animals come from and why is it a ‘magical’ menagerie?, linking back to our first question – ‘what happens to naughty children?’
It is important to remember that this is a work in progress so my experience may be different to others and this review will look at the concept of the show as a whole. Straight away I could see that this show has incredible potential! A great concept, with good staging and something that is enjoyable for the majority of the family. From the onset there is catchy music. Sometimes repetitive (especially with some numbers) however it will definitely leave the audience humming the tunes on the way home. I know I certainly did! I also found it really refreshing to see that the score was not filled with ‘children’s songs’ normally with the generic and predictable rhyming. This had some really clever rhyming system throughout.
Despite this work in progress being described as dark, the music definitely provides a different sound. Bar a few songs, the score had a jolly, upbeat feel. The show also proves to be very educational for younger audience members. Not only are they being shown the (imaginary) consequences of being naughty but there are also a few potentially unfamiliar words thrown in. What I really loved was how the definitions of these words were blended so seamlessly into the script.
All the way through, the show remained very engaging. I personally get very worried about going along to children’s theatre because if a child is not entertained it can become rather disruptive but all of the children in the audience seemed mesmerised by the show. I feel this is helped with some of the staging and use of The Other Palace. It was not just restricted to the stage. We had cast members coming down the stairs, actually sitting down in empty seats on the front row and even climbing over the rows! That part was very unexpected! I personally think that engaging with the audience is an important part of theatre (if appropriate for the show) and it was nice to see it in The Little Beasts but I feel it was overworked especially within the first part of act one. This was mainly by the man in black whose character gave me the impression of being a little over the top and almost like a ring master; this made it slightly more forgivable. The magical menagerie is his show and needs everything to be perfect whilst also remaining in complete control but you could see a few soft sides to him. He genuinely does want to help the children, in a slightly dark way.
The set was kept very simple but conveyed the different scenes well. We, the audience, could see the ‘stage’ setting for the magical menagerie but then with a few minor adjustments we were presented with cages. Another child-friendly element was the use of puppets. These are not your classical puppets though, they are a little grotesque! But this was very in keeping with the show by visually showing how naughty these children were. I thought it was very clever how each little beast represented a different ‘naughty’ behaviour which matched the typical stereotypes given to those animals (The pig was greedy). A great form of association for children.
Overall, I was really impressed with The Little Beasts and can see it going very far. I look forward to seeing how it progresses in the nearby future.
The Little Beasts is running at The Other Palace until July 29th. For more show and ticket information: https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk/whats-on/the-little-beasts