A Tiger’s Tale, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, until 25 February
A Tiger’s truth is stranger than fiction.
Ma, Pa and Titch want to tell you a story, an ordinary story, where ordinary things happen. However that’s not really how stories work...extraordinary things have a habit of creeping into them.
This play starts rather slowly, but after a while it becomes clear that the Yorkshire family of three make terrible window cleaners but excellent acrobats. Cue some impressive stage acrobatics, where Pa played by Owen Gaynor, excels at balancing a ladder on his chin.
Because they are acrobats, naturally the family decide to run away and join the circus - in South Africa. It’s no surprise that it’s there that they find the unwanted tiger cub, ‘Ella’, who is central to the story.
The play is designed to entertain children aged four to 11 and their families, which it does successfully by combining simple circus skills with puppetry, live music and song. Using a fairly simply set, the three actors transport the audience from Yorkshire to South Africa and back via train and steamboat.
My two children, aged nine and six, enjoyed the acrobatics and the puppetry most out of the whole show, falling in love with the grown-up puppet tiger. They chatted lots afterwards about how it was made.
Overall there were a few laughs and the occasional serious moment, but once the story got going the children followed it easily.
The real drama though, is in learning that this ‘tall tale’ is all true. There really was a Holmfirth tiger called Fenella, and for my children it was this realisation that created the magic in the story.
A nice option for families looking for a spot of entertainment at the end of a chilly half-term week.