“Monty LOVES inventing,
BUT things don’t always work…”
Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s characterful tale Monstersaurus (Simon and Schuster, £5.99) has long been a favourite in our house so when I saw there was a stage show adaptation by Big Wooden Horse and it was coming to Terry O’Toole Theatre it was definitely a date to go into the diary and The Mini Malpi were delighted to be a guest of the North Hykeham theatre for the 3pm show on Saturday.
With a set that was bedecked with everything a young inventor could want – magnifying glass, specimen bottles, a bubble machine, instruction books and, of course, an inventing machine – it was interesting to see how the theatre company would adapt and expand on its fun source material.
Lively puppets, energetic songs and dances (in case you’re wondering, Monstersaurus rhymes with chorus) and disgusting ingredients supplied by some audience participation saw us introduced to Monty’s mum, an expanded timeline, a language all “swampy, green and wobbly” Bogablob’s own, a comprehensive back story covering Dust Monster’s origins (but not the title character’s due to a “sensitive family history”), a diamond geezer version of the main monster that’s sure to have changed a few parental storytime renditions following the show and a glimpse into the best friends’ future travel adventures.
I was in proud, smug-mummy mode to start with as my four-year -old son chose to sit on his own on the front benches the theatre put out for children’s shows for the first time. He’s not great at sitting still but the show had him riveted, if not to the actual seat, to a defined space around it.
And it was lovely to be able to watch from above his very physical reactions to what was happening on stage, bouncing up and down with excitement along with Monty’s enthusiasm, laughing at and pointing to things that caught his attention, turning round on one occasion to highlight to us his enjoyment and concentration (“Luke-y watching”) and jumping to the floor behind the bench and back over as each monster was explosively introduced (note to self: must move the sofas away from the wall so there’s space to hide behind them when he’s old enough to be introduced to Doctor Who!)
Advertised for age 3+, my 22-month-old daughter was also fully engaged with the show, joining in the clapping at all appropriate times, both as applause and along with the beat of the songs.
Of course, as with all smug-mummy moments, they only last for a certain length of time. But this time, my son’s quickly unravelling behaviour was for the sweetest of reasons – and quite an appropriate one too. “Monty cheered, I’VE MADE A FRIEND… A MEGA MONSTER ONE!” near the end of the book and Luke too found a friend in the (very non-monstrous) five-year-old he was sat next to and whose family member we were sat near to as well.
It’s so lovely how children can just make friends so instantly and, whilst not necessarily obvious at first glance, they were still very focused on events unfolding on the stage, adorably copying the actions of Monty and Monstersaurus between them as they flew off on an adventure. But, as the new friends’ enjoyment and reenactments became increasingly spirited, we were also quite relieved when the actors took their final bows and we were all able to leave on a high with no calming intervention required (just).
With the book’s final line reading “What fun did they get up to? YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE…” all we need now is Claire Freedman to pen the sequel and hope that Big Wooden Horse would bring their further adventures to life on stage too as we’d certainly be doing our “Saturday dance” and booking seats (along with the space around them!)
Missed Monstersaurus at the TOTT? Click here for further tour dates elsewhere.
More children’s theatre coming up at the Terry O’Toole Theatre includes:
Granny’s Game by Rhubarb Theatre, November 19th
Lily and the Little Snow Bear by Blunderbus, December 17th