dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Children's much-loved hounds goes on a winter adventure
Mick Inkpen's Kipper stories are huge best-sellers so they are an obvious choice for a children's theatre show and when it's Christmas it needs a festive tale. Kipper's Snowy Day takes us to Christmas Eve where the much-loved hound wakes up full of excitement at the coming festivities – and to top it all, it's snowing.
The story takes Kipper out into the snow where he meets his friends Tiger, Pig and Arnold and they enjoy a bit spot of snowballing, building snowdogs and creating body-shaped holes in the ground. But when a storm blows in, the group becomes separated and Arnold is lost.
Aimed at children aged three and above, Slot MachineTheatre's production uses puppets to tell the story with some nice touches such as replacing the life-size puppets with mini ones when they are at the top of the hill to give an impression of distance. The three puppeteers, all dressed in white to blend into the snowy background, bring the characters to life with plenty of movement and a handful of songs.
The set is simple, it's just a white slope to become a snowy hill, with snowballs and the storm being created by strips of paper. The show also uses projection onto the back screen to amplify some of the scenes.
The plot is a bit thin and even at 50 minutes, it feels like there's a lot of padding to make the story reach that length. Bearing in mind children always love a bit of audience participation, it's a shame the company didn't look for a more imaginative way of filling the gaps which could have involved the youngsters in some way.
But children in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the characters they know so well on stage and, with the story ending with Christmas present swapping and turning out the lights ready for the arrival of Father Christmas, it's certainly a festive treat for little ones. Staged in the main theatre at Midlands Arts Centre until December 31, see macbirmingham.co.uk for details.