Wednesday, 13 July 2011

In The Night Garden... Live

Not a sponsored review. I paid for my tickets with real money.  This is just me.

I only found out that ITNG was in Cardiff last Tuesday. I was on a training course, got the train, and there at the station was a poster for the show.  I didn't really take in when it was, but the following evening, I thought I'd have a look online & find out.  And it started on Saturday. Well.  Clearly it was meant to be.  The decision making process was something like "Right, I'm going, Squeaky's going. Daddy, do you want to come? When are you not working? Then when's least expensive?"  So we ended up going to the lunchtime show on the opening day.

The Showdome
The showdome is set up right in the middle of Bute Park, so to even get to the Night Garden, you get a walk through a beautiful mature park, full of trees, stone circles, squirrels, the River Taff, and the likes.  The dome itself is like a couple of giant inflatable igloos, behind metal security fencing, which is disguised with giant pictures of the ITNG characters.  At this point, Squeaky figured out something was going on.

Upsy Daisy is a firm favourite in our house, but she kept going back to Makka Pakka, I think because he was more her size.  You might just be able to see that Squeaky's clutching her own Upsy Daisy.  You would not beLIEVE the number of cuddly Upsy Daisies and Iggle Piggles we saw, or the number of children dressed in Upsy Daisy dress-up outfits.

We trundled inside, parked our buggy in the ample buggy parking area (I was in Buggy Geek mode, spotting loads of Gracos, including another U'Go in a different colourway to ours) and went inside. The whole set up is really well organised, keeping queueing down to a minimum, and keeping everyone moving.  There's plenty of ways to spend your money, I was quite glad I hadn't been to the cashpoint, or we'd've ended up weighed down with spinning lights, dvds, helium Pinky Ponks, and all sorts.  We managed to be content with just a programme, and I'd already booked the Meet a Character session for after the show.

There's choice of two shows, which alternate through the day.  So if you've got a really tough bum, or a REALLY obsessed child, you could see both in one day.  Or go back (I'm tempted) another day to see the other show.  The seating was well planned, all set far enough back from the row in front to not have your view blocked, but not so steep that escaping little ones were in danger of hurting themselves.  There were lots of ushers around as well, delivering escaped toddlers back to their owners, and telling people off for using flash.

The show then.  It really was like a whole, extra length, episode of In The Night Garden... Once you learn to, well not quite ignore but just accept, the puppeteers, it's all good.  (It's kinda like Avenue Q in that respect, the humans are there but they're not.)  All the characters were in it, except those that aren't really in normal episodes anyway (Wattingers, Haa-hoos, I'm looking at you here!).  Flash photography wasn't allowed in the show, so these photos are a bit wobbly.

The strangest thing was Makka Pakka.  He's small compared to Upsy Daisy & Iggle Piggle, aboutthe same size as the Tombliboos, and huge compared to the Pontipines.  To be able to have all the characters at the right size would be a logistical nightmare, and the Pontipines would be so tiny no-one would see them if they were sat further back than the front row. Makka Pakka was washing everyone's faces, so he needed to appear with all the other characters.  That meant that we needed a big (adult in costume) Makka Pakka to deal with his stones, push his Og-Pog about & wash the Pontipines, and a small Makka Pakka to wash Iggle Piggle & Upsy Daisy.  So Big Makka Pakka would leave the stage to the left, and Small Makka Pakka would appear stage right.  I don't think it threw the children half as much as it did me.

Squeaky was transfixed throughout.  I've never known her sit so still and pay so much attention.  But by the time we had our turn to meet Upsy Daisy, she was a bit tired & fractious.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go anyway, she's been OK with some giant characters, and completely terrified of others.  She wasn't sure, wasn't exactly keen, but not screaming either. Until our time was up, and then she was all smiles & waves to Upsy Daisy, just too late.  Ah well.

I did take some, ok quite a lot, of video on the Flip, but I haven't edited it yet, or checked it to make sure I wasn't accidentally singing along with the Iggle Piggle song.  When I have, I'll make another post with some video.  Everybody loves video.  Isn't that a pip?

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