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Susan Elkin reviews: The Smartest Giant in Town


Society: West End & Fringe

Venue: Little Angel Theatre Studios, 132 Sebbon Street, London

Credits: By Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Adapted by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane. Music composed by Barb Jungr. Co-produced by Little Angel and Fierylight

Type: Sardines

Author: Susan Elkin

Performence Date: 12/06/2021

The Smartest Giant in Town

Susan Elkin | 12 Jun 2021 21:38pm

Julia Donaldson’s story (in case you’re not on story sharing terms with any tinies) tells of a scruffy giant who is furnished with smart new clothes which, step by step, he gives away to others in need. Thus, 45 minutes later he’s the kindest giant in town rather than the smartest.

This is a sweet and engaging account – as respectful both to Donaldson’s story and Axel Scheffler’s illustrations as it has to be because it’s probably familiar to every pre-schooler in the room.

Barb Jungr’s lilting, complementary music adds an extra dimension complete with harmonies nicely managed by Lizzie Wort, Gilbert Taylor and the giant Duane Gooden clad in a massive head-encompassing mask which must be very hot to work in.

The best song is cumulative and a causer of earworms thanks to the deceptive simplicity of Donaldson’s rhymes and Jungr’s near one note melody. I left singing “My tie’s a scarf for a cold giraffe”, “My belt helped a dog who was crossing a bog” and more.

Because this is a Little Angel production (in its relatively spacious, airy studio theatre rather than the main house) the puppetry is very charming. There’s a particularly appealing sequence with a family of mice whose house has burned down.

Wort and Gilbert both contribute excellent voice work and lots of smiles when they’re acting as human beings rather than puppeteers.


Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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