It may have escaped your notice, but this weekend was Midsummer. Apparently that is a pretty big deal in Sweden and other Nordic countries, where they celebrate the longest day of the year with much festivity and even more flavoured schnapps! Having very good friends locally who are Swedish, there we were on Friday evening, enjoying an alfresco dinner to mark midsommar and of course feeling obliged to partake in the schnapps ritual, we had a lovely evening although did awake with a teensy-weensy bit of a headache the next morning…
So wasn’t it strange then that of all the dates between 11 June and 16 August that we could have gone to the fabulous Polka Theatre in Wimbledon to see Moominsummer Madness, that we actually went to see it on Saturday 21st June, which was in fact Midsummer and not only that, the whole musical adventure is actually set on Midsummer Eve… I mean coincidence or what?!? I can confirm however there was scant evidence of any schnapps in the Moomins Midsummer celebrations, but then again, it is a children’s show, so….
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson, author of the Moomins, Moominsummer Madness combines puppetry, live music and a cast of much-loved Moomins on stage. The show is really recommended for children aged 4-8 years, but there are some special “all ages welcome” performances running (check schedule) and we took Allegra and Claudia along to the Saturday morning performance.
Allegra isn’t particularly familiar with the Moomins, but did happen to get a Moomins colouring and sticker book for her birthday earlier in the year, which she’d not yet really had a go at. So in the run-up to seeing the show, we spent some time having fun with that and so by the time we went to the show she was at least familiar with some of the main characters.
As we took our seats in the main theatre, she turned to me and whispered “I’m so excited mamma!” and let out a little squeal. Too cute!
The story is a little mad, I won’t lie! I’m not entirely sure how much of it Allegra really followed – she is only 3 years and 4 months, so is a fair bit under the recommended age for the show – but none-the-less she was totally captivated and really really enjoyed it. She was sat on the edge of her seat eyes fixed onto the stage for the whole performance, which does by the way have a short interval – handy for a loo break and compulsory ice cream of course!
The puppets were really rather good and the performers who double-up as puppeteers, singers/performers and set-shifters, were fantastic. There were a couple of puppet characters and moments in the show where I wondered if Allegra might get a little frightened, particularly as some of the music and sound effects were quite loud and booming (there’s a storm at the beginning that was quite dark and noisy and did set a few children off!) but she surprised me and while she shifted a bit closer in those parts, she didn’t get spooked at all.
Claudia, aged 16 months and a bit of a seasoned theatre go-er (no joke!) didn’t fare so well sadly. Having fallen asleep in the car on the way there we then had to wake her up to bring her in, so she was a bit tired and in a daze for the first half – however, she did watch with interest and only really got fidgety just before the interval. But fairly soon into the second half, Richmond Daddy had to leave and take her out as she was just getting too restless. She’s done well watching things like Peppa Pig Live or The Gruffalo before, but they are shorter and brighter (lighting wise) and the songs more bouncy/ younger kid friendly, so I think this was just really a bit too grown-up for her.
After the show we did stop by the little gift shop at the Polka Theatre and Allegra picked out a couple of souvenir toys – Little My (who Allegra has re-named as Little Miss My for some reason) and Moominmamma (bought for Claudia but already Allegra has decided they should “swap”). She talked about the show quite a bit for the rest of the day and really did enjoy it and of course she’s looking forward to bringing the toys in to pre-school tomorrow for Show & Tell – I’d love to be a fly on the wall hearing her try to describe the show!
When a huge flood sweeps through Moominvalley, the Moomins find an exciting hew home… a floating theatre!
But why is there a door in the floor? Why does the scenery start changing? And where do Moomintroll, Little My and Snork Maiden disappear to? As strange things start to happen it seems the only way to bring the family back together is to put on a play!
Moominsummer Madness is part of Tove 100, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson.
Disclosure: we were given tickets for the family to go see Moominsummer Madness at the Polka Theatre in exchange for writing this review, but all opinions are honest and our own. The show runs at the Polka Theatre from 11 June to 16 August 2014 and tickets are available from the Box Office.