Ben and Holly

Ben and Holly Photography of previous cast by Dan Tsantilis lr

 

By Tim Saunders
 
It is the magic that is most mesmerising in Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom at The Anvil, Basingstoke – one of 42 theatres that this production visits during its UK and Ireland Tour 2019.
Fairy princess Holly vanishes into thin air while playing hide and seek with Ben Elf and then a little child shrinks…
We learn that Nanny Plum moonlights as a tooth fairy who wakes Lucy when she goes to exchange her tooth for a coin. Heidi (6) has just had her first tooth out so she can really relate to this part of the story. Nanny Plum then shrinks Lucy whisking her away to the Little Kingdom for more fun and games. “Acorn small, oak tree tall….” Nanny Plum chants as she starts her potion to cure King Thistle’s cold that turns out to be a remedy for baldness as his hair sprouts all over the place.
Poor old King Thistle doesn’t want to celebrate his birthday due to old age; I have a little chuckle to myself, sympathising in many ways. And we have little Gaston the ladybird squirting water tears all over the front row of the audience when he’s unhappy at his smelly home being tidied up.
My wife and I enjoy watching our children: Harriett (8), Heidi (6) and Henry (3) all engrossed with the performance and all the tunes they recognise. While they are fans of the television series seeing it live in front of them on the stage really captures their imaginations. The performance is about an hour long with an interval in the middle, so just the right length for little ones.
We wonder how the characters with their puppet heads can see where they are going. I reckon they look through their large mouth holes but Caroline disagrees. At any rate it must be a hot business to be on stage in these costumes.
At the end Harriett wants it to continue and on their return home the children all drift off to sleep dreaming of fairies.
 
February 20, 2019 The Anvil, Basingstoke.
April 9 and 10, 2019 Princes Hall, Aldershot
July 12 to 14, 2019 Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.
 
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