In The Night Garden is one of the most popular TV shows for little ones at the moment. Designed to help children wind-down before bedtime, it focuses on colourful characters who live in a magical forest. The characters all have strange names. There’s Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy, the Tombliboos, the Pontipines, the Haahoos, the Ninky Nonk, and the Pinky Ponk. They speak in babbling tongues, and each have their own music associated with them. They are really quite hypnotic and relaxing! This random collection of characters have gained a real following amongst children aged 1 – 5, including J. We were therefore delighted to be invited to watch In The Night Garden Live – a touring theatre performance of the TV show!
Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
In The Night Garden Live is currently at Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham. We were able to park near the MAC, but there are stewards on hand with maps to show you how to find their overflow carpark. It was very well signposted, and easy to find. If you park at the MAC, remember to bring a buggy, as the ‘showdome’ is on the other side of the park – a 10-15 minute walk. Anyone who has been to Cannon Hill Park before will know what a lovely walk it is though – past the playground, past the boating lake, and past lots of children with In The Night Garden balloons, adding to the anticipation!
In The Night Garden Showdome
The show itself takes place in a purpose-built ‘showdome’. From the outside, it looks like a great white bubble, looming mysteriously as you walk through the park – very exciting! There was no queue, thanks to a system of two doors – one for ticket holders, and one for those wanting to purchase on the day. The foyer was huge, with a long counter for buying sweets, drinks and goodie bags (at a cost of £39…!) There is a good space to leave prams, and toilets and changing facilities are available.
We entered a tunnel, all lit with fairy lights, and headed towards the stage. There are two levels of seats – standard and premium. To be honest, there is not a lot of difference between the two, except that the premium seats are closer. It’s not a huge theatre though, and there is a good view of the stage wherever you sit. There is no additional interaction with the premium seat holders, and we actually had more space around us sitting a bit further back. Apart from this distinction, none of the seats are actually allocated – you can sit wherever you choose.
The stage was in the centre, and was all lit up green. There were trees built all around the set, and a big open book read ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. Projected onto the dome around it were lots more trees, and the Pinky Ponk moving overhead. It was very bright and visual.
Before long, the show started. It opened with the music a scene of the opening credits on the show, including twinkly stars and a dimming of lights, to set the scene. Throughout the show, each of the characters came on stage and performed their signature dance. They did this twice, to give the children the opportunity to join in (but it may have been more effective to do this even more times, for the children who take some warming up! ) There was a mixture of large characters in costume, and little ones as puppets. The puppets were effective, as they were able to move through the garden, with the ever-changing set. The kids loved the big characters though – they always got big cheers and shouts as they came on stage.
The story, as with the TV show, was very simple. Makka Pakka goes into the garden to wash everyone’s face. He loses his sponge, and Upsy Daisy finds it. Unlike with some other children’s shows, there’s not a lot in it for the adults, but the children seemed to enjoy it. The dome itself added a lot to the show, because of the mesmerising projections all around. At one point towards the end, bubble machines were turned on, and the children went mad for the bubbles raining down on them.
The show was perhaps a little long (it lasted nearly an hour) to hold the attention of the youngest children. Some people even started to leave after around 30 minutes, as you could see the kids losing interest. It was a cool experience, but maybe a little overpriced for what it was. Standard tickets are £14.50 each (regardless of age), and premium ones are £23! Tickets can be delivered in a souvenir (cardboard) case for £10. Goodie bags were £39. And you could meet a character for 5 minutes for £15. Whew! It could quickly add up to a very expensive hour! Great if you have diehard In The Night Garden fans, but perhaps a bit much otherwise.
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Disclaimer: This tickets were kindly gifted to us. All views and opinions are completely my own, and I have not been paid to write this post.