She’s like a rock-star to millions of tiny tots, with her target audience seemingly demanding her presence on our Australian television screens not once, but four times daily (on ABC 2/4). With her sweet, inquisitive voice and bossy yet tender attitude towards her little brother, George, she easily wins hearts of toddlers and pre-schoolers.
She is Peppa Pig and her live show Peppa Pig Live! Treasure Hunt has hit Adelaide. It brings with it a brightly coloured and effective set, talented voice and puppeteer artists, and what seems to be a truckload of merchandise.
Originating in the West End of London, the show has already been through Dandenong, Melbourne and Sydney, and after Adelaide Peppa and her crew head to Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Hobart. Most of these shows sold out in days, with the promoters saying one of their ticketing partners compared the response to an “on-sale day for Pink or Radiohead”.
So what’s so appealing about Peppa Pig as a fictitious character? I asked this myself nearly two years ago, while boarding a long-haul London-Singapore flight. A family with two small children included a little cherub who had the works: a Peppa Pig jacket, track pants, wheelie carry-case, soft toy and, although I had to squint, I suspected hair accessories. Being previously unaware of the phenomenon that was Peppa Pig, I was impressed by the job her creators had done in sending this paraphernalia out into the universe.
About a year later, her DVDs and merchandise started to trickle into my home and I finally got it. The show is clever, sweet and captivating. And there are a few jokes I suspect are very subtly slotted in for the sake of the parents. Very subtly.
The excellent news is that the charm of the mega-successful animated show has carried through to the live adaptation. From the moment that the lights came up and the familiar earthy tone of the show’s narrator John Sparkes echoed throughout the Dunstan Playhouse, I was both relieved and impressed. Relieved that the characters transcended from their familiar two-dimensional home into a live show. And impressed with the cast which comprises actors who skillfully voice and “puppeteer” Peppa, her family and the rest of the characters.
Driving the narrative on stage is a human character, not previously known by the young audience, named Daisy. Her cheerful direction to Peppa and friends such as Danny Dog and Pedro Pony means that the story hurtles along at a squirmy-toddler-appropriate pace. The song and dance numbers are delightful and their quest for treasure is, naturally, concluded at the end in a real crowd-pleasing fashion.
Enjoyable and spot-on in terms of its tone and intended audience, it’s worth the ticket price as far as premium children’s entertainment goes. You really would need an iron will to disembark without a soft toy or show-bag, though. Oh, but sometimes it’s nice to be a softie.
Peppa Pig Live! Treasure Hunt is showing daily until December 6 at the Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre.
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