The Scarecrows’ Wedding – Review – West Yorkshire Playhouse
The Scarecrows’ Wedding – Review
West Yorkshire Playhouse, May 2017
by Sarah Churcher
We’re off to a wedding, the best wedding yet. We are dressed in our finery and on our best behaviour. Off we go, into the gorgeous, colourful and imaginative world of Julia Donaldson’s The Scarecrows’ Wedding.
Donaldson writes such beautiful, original and witty books for children. The language is exquisite and, coupled with the glorious illustrations from Axel Scheffler, her stories come alive for kids worldwide. To put one of her books on the stage must be a challenge, but so very worth it. To bring her sweet and cheerful characters to life for a junior audience is something to be applauded.
This production by Scamp Theatre is an exciting, fast-paced watch for the little ones. Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay are scarecrows, they scare lots of crows every day. But in between scaring crows they are planning their wedding, the best wedding yet… sorry, I’ll stop soon, it’s hard not to constantly quote the book! But it really is a compliment. The story is so well-written, it can only really be described in its own words.
“Clever and imaginative”
The small cast of three do a fine job of relating the pretty story whilst interweaving some sweet songs and dynamic character portrayal. As we see the scarecrow pair find all the things they need to put on a wedding we are introduced to each of the much-loved characters in the book, some of whom get a bit bigger part than was originally written for them. In fact it is only in these moments that the dialogue seems a little out of place. As my four-year-old says (quite loudly during the performance) “Well, that wasn’t in the book!”).
But, frankly, it is worth beefing up the toad’s part just to see a middle-aged man master a giant green space hopper.
The set design is delightfully simple and, as is often the case with productions for children, the simplicity brings with it a magical quality that captivates the young audience. As the flowers grow in the field and then turn into a pond the children ooh-and-aaah in all the right places. Reginald Rake is the baddie that we all expect him to be and the fire in the bottom of a chair is so ingenious my little girl has not stopped talking about it (slightly worrying). The music is clever and imaginative and elevates the story to a piece of theatre. It is lovely to see and hear the cast playing all sorts of instruments including, my favourite, the kazoo.
“Creates memories that last a lifetime”
Audience interaction is inevitable at these sorts of shows – and why not – we must all do our bit. I particularly enjoy being a cow and mooing louder than any child in attendance whilst my three year old revels in screaming “wake up, wake up” at the snoozing, sedate snail.
Live theatre for children should be a joy and create memories that last a lifetime. This production is a must see. But prepare for the honest answer from your little ones when you ask what their favourite bit was… the confetti cannon at the end!
Congratulations Betty and Harry, your wedding really was the best wedding yet.