Review: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog by Third Party Productions

Noggin Nogbad and crowsI have to confess at the outset that I did book the tour of The Sagas of Noggin the Nog for Third Party Productions but, hand on heart, that has in no way biased this review. The show really is the most charming and delightful piece of theatre I have seen for a long time.

Third Party are not specialists in work for children but this show is not just for children.  Like most of their work, it’s for everyone! The five-year-old who sat next to me was engaged throughout, and especially enjoyed how considerate the growling vikings suddenly became when they hammered out a lump in his seat so that he was more comfortable. But there was also plenty in there for us adults and not in the way that, sadly, most pantos have gone in this day and age, by peppering it with smutty innuendo that (hopefully) goes above the heads of the children. Instead the piece, although on the surface was just a simple story that even a very young child will understand and enjoy, contained a depth of performance, characterisation and nuance that kept everyone of every age charmed and engaged throughout.

I’m (just about) old enough to remember the original Postgate and Firmin series when it was broadcast on the BBC, and I am delighted that Third Party retained the gentle humour and spirit of the original. From the frequent references to tea and buttered toast to short projected clips of the original animation, the show was everything I remembered about the TV series and more. The casting was perfect and the puppets were beautiful – especially the Great Green Bird, Graculus, and the huge Ice Dragon in the second half – and the show was full of magic. This was storytelling in the purest and best sense, beautifully directed by John Wright and performed with reverential fun by the accomplished cast of four. Intimate and engaging, I can see it working in a much larger space or in the smallest of rural venues. Those lucky theatres who have booked it for Spring 2013 have a real gem coming for their audiences to enjoy!

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