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I Want My Hat Back (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: I Want My Hat Back Trilogy

Society: Little Angel Theatre

Venue: Little Angel Studios. Community Centre, Sebbon Street, London N1 2EH

Credits: Adapted from the books by Jon Klassen, by Ian Nicholson and Sam Wilde. Produced inn association with Little Angel Theatre

I Want My Hat Back Trilogy

 4 stars

Photos by Suzi Corker

You can rely on Little Angel Theatre to produce oodles of charm and I Want My Hat Back delivers it. Personally I am more charmed by work staged in the exquisite main house than in the rather banal studios, but under fives don’t notice and I’m sure there are good practical reasons for using a building with more space and fewer constraints.

The show – only 35 minutes in total – dramatises a trilogy of tiny stories by Jon Klassen. The first is a quest for a hat by a bear who has lost it. The second is a blue-lit underwater, rather moral, tale of a little fish who steals a hat from a whale and meets an appropriate end. Lastly we meet a pair of desert tortoises who have found a hat which they both want.

Of course the puppets, mostly framed by a mini proscenium standing on a big wooden table with drawers, have to look like the drawings in the books the children are already familiar with. And they do: flat, two dimensional creations operated by two black-clad puppeteers who voice them and slide/whizz them round the space. Eyes, presumably operated by lever from behind are particularly effective.

There are literally dozens of puppets in this show – they come in a whole range of sizes and guises with the bear, his rotating legs flying round as he chases a naughty rabbit,  being my definite favourite. The slick stage management of all these changes is quite a feat.

Simon Lyshon has a very unflappable demeanour and a splendid range of funny noises – the underwater glooping being particularly good. Imogen Khan’s voice work is fine too – she gives every animal a different accent or voice. And the two work seamlessly together.

So all in all, a delightful, engaging show for preschoolers. The little girl (4?) next to me  gleefully shrieked “O my God!” thus making the audience laugh when she saw the sperm whale’s teeth. The show clearly works.

 First published by Sardines:
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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