Room on the Broom, Garrick Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

Well, it was early in the morning, not even opening time, and the sun was shining, so I feel no need to apologise for singing along with a magic rock chorus of "Iggety, ziggety, ziggety zoom", and none of the three-, five- and seven-year-olds around me thought I was behaving oddly.

What to do with little'uns if you've not gone on holiday or, even worse, come back already? Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, adapted for the stage by Tall Stories, might be the answer, though a cheapest ticket price of £12 might seem a bit steep.

Fifty-five minutes is time enough to tell the story of the old witch and her cat as they fly in search of a red dragon and collect extra passengers – a fluffy dog, a green bird and a Yankee frog – falling to earth in search of a butterfly bow and a magic wand. The broom snaps, the witch is captured by the dragon, then rescued by her chums disguised as a mud monster.

Four actors frame this adventure as a bunch of happy campers in sleeping bags, and the audience has no trouble adjusting to this dramatic device, nor to the puppetry of the animals manipulated in full view by two of the actors, multitasking Alan Park and Phil Yarrow.

Morag Cross is the non-frightening witch – she doesn't even have a sausage nose with a big wart on it – and Karina Garnett a cuddly marmalade cat with perky ears. Only adults will find anything fruity or suggestive in these two bobbing up and down on their wooden broomstick, or anything slightly irritating in the Blue Peter niceness of it all.

It's a shame that the music is on a soundtrack, tying the over-microphoned actors to exact musical timings. Spontaneity is at a premium. But the jaunty songs are very good, and the audience, save for a few mewling infants, is mostly entranced.



To 29 August (0844 412 4662; nimaxtheatres.com)

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