An ordinary story that is anything but…
That’s Pa, Ma and Titch’s mission at the start of ‘A Tiger’s Tale’; to tell an ordinary story for once. No knights, no dragons, no princesses and no galaxies far, far away.
And that’s where we all believe we’re heading in this play, starring a family of three very ordinary people from Yorkshire as they go about their village life. Pa cleans windows for a living, emphasis on ‘cleans’ because it’s used here in its loosest form - basically, he’s not very good at it. But what he is good at, is getting up and down those window cleaning ladders. And we soon find the family are all pretty nimble and not afraid to balance a tea cup or two on their chins. Before long, the family are talk of the village, entertaining the locals with their acrobatic act. And that’s where the tale really takes off; an apparently ordinary story of an ordinary family, invited to join a travelling circus as acrobats.
Exciting twists and turns, and multiple musical numbers fill the 85-minute show, as we journey over land and sea with seamless and simple changes of scenery that allow even the youngest in the audience to envisage the circus train, the big top and the huge boat. The three cast members play all the characters, with slick and fuss-free costume changes enabling us to meet tiger tamers, lords of the manor and even, err, local council representatives!
But whilst the three cast members do an excellent job in telling this ‘ordinary’ story, there are two props that really bring the play to life; the tiger and the ladder. Yes, a ladder. With the play off to a gentle start, with perhaps excessive dialogue for a young audience, I could sense my children, and others sitting patiently, itching to get a glimpse of the tiger. But with no tiger in sight during the early scenes, the moment that really captured the young audience’s attention was the introduction of the ladder and its central role to the acrobatic scenes. Later in the play, the children do get to see that hotly anticipated tiger, but it’s not your typical fluffy puppet that could fetch a few bob in a zoo’s gift shop. No, it’s anything but. However, thanks to a spot of believable and discreet puppetry, its metallic appearance is convincing, and as the story unravels, everyone (adults included) experience a real sense of empathy towards this unusual contraption.
The final scene subtlety wraps up this charming story with a moving moment, again making the most of the stage and the adaptable props, and ending on a moment that left my children wanting to know more about Fenella, the real tiger who inspired this story. And by the way, her tale really is extraordinary.
This is a sponsored post for the Family Arts Campaign www.fantasticforfamilies.com who are currently running their ‘Fantastic for Families’ campaign, which encourages families to discover and experience events within arts and culture, such as theatre, dance, museums and more.
A Tiger’s Tale is from the Offie award winning M6 Theatre Company http://www.m6theatre.co.uk
We watched the play at the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts https://norden.farm/