This is a review of WOLF! at Northern Stage, Newcastle.
We were given free tickets to see WOLF! in return for an honest review. For more information, please see my disclosure page.
Before I became a dad, I had lots of ideas of wholesome things I would do when I had a child. My hypothetical parenting style involved things like going for walks on Sundays, organic family breakfasts with avocado on sourdough, and no screentime at all. These things didn’t exactly work out, but one thing I always vowed to do was to go to Northern Stage for a show at Christmas, and I’m pleased to report that this has come to fruition!
Northern Stage is presenting two different shows this year: The Snow Queen and WOLF! We were invited along to see WOLF!, which is their offering aimed at families with children under 5. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if Zak was old enough yet to go to the theatre. At 19 months old, I worried that his attention span wouldn’t be long enough for the 45 minute show and that he would end up running around shouting his current favourite words: “Die! No! Die! Strawberries! Die! Socks! Die!” And other such festive greetings. But I needn’t have worried, as he was mesmerised for the entire show. As was I.
Written and performed by Kitchen Zoo, WOLF! is based on Aesop’s fable of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf.’ It follows the story of Jack, a girl who is embarking on her first day of being a shepherd. Jack is desperate to win the ‘Champion Sheep Cup’ and comes up with different ways of being heroic. Unfortunately, Barbara the sheep doesn’t get herself into much bother, so Jack’s heroism isn’t really needed. Soon, she realises that no-one has ever saved a sheep from a wolf. She calls to the villagers to alert them to an imaginary wolf, but she is soon found out and the villagers lose interest. Jack’s deceit comes back to bite her when a real wolf appears, but the villagers aren’t interested anymore. I’ll not give away all the details of how Jack solves the problem, but needless to say, they all live happily ever after in the end.
The whole show is made up of a mix of music, speech, dance, repetitive actions, puppetry and mime. The audience for our Saturday afternoon performance was kept entertained for the full 45 minute show, which was the perfect length. Zak giggled lots at the wolf when he danced in the style of Elvis, and we laughed lots at the humour that was definitely aimed at the adults in the audience. There were moments of audience participation and Zak enjoyed getting to dance along with the two actors.
One thing I loved about this show was that the audience didn’t need to sit on traditional theatre chairs. There’s no way Zak would have sat on one for that length of time! You could choose to sit on chairs if you wanted to, but the majority of the audience sat on the floor, right up at the edge of the stage. This meant that we felt totally immersed in the show and Zak was able to see everything that was going on.
Afterwards, we were lucky enough to meet the real star of the show: Barbara the sheep. The cast were around to meet everyone and it’s little things like this that make the theatre magical for children: Kitchen Zoo and Northern Stage have got it just right.
Heading to Northern Stage every December is definitely going to be one of our family traditions from now on. We might even have avocado on sourdough while we’re there!
WOLF! is being performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle until 4th January 2020. Tickets, priced from £8 for children and £10 for adults, are available from the Northern Stage website.