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Potted history unearthed in the magic shed

Sidney’s Shed, Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton, April 12 only

Anyone who’s ever been to an allotment will know they are magical places, filled with home-made sheds. When Maisie runs away from the school bullies, the allotment is where she finds herself, and unwittingly she enters the most magical shed of all - Sidney Waffle’s time-travelling shed.

In this zany adventure story, the three Rhubarb Theatre actors work equally hard to bring to life a shed that travels through the past. Using dance, puppetry and song, the audience is transported from Roman Britain to the moment an apple falls on Isaac Newton’s head. The show is played for pure comedy, with plenty of slapstick that had my six-year old howling in his seat with laughter.

Dialogue is sparse, the actors preferring to ‘show not tell’, which works well for the most part, but makes the plot difficult to understand at times.

It was only half way through the show that I properly understood why Sidney had built his unusual shed.

What impressed me most were that some of the historical scenes were straight from the curriculum. My six-year-old son was delighted at the mention of the Great Fire of London and the Crimean War, both of which he has recently learnt about at school. The best scene of the show by far was the chase of the Vikings by a giant octopus. It was skilful, playful and completely hilarious.

I was expecting some sort of moral at the end of the show and one was loosely delivered. However, there was a greater sense that the historical scenes in all their authenticity provided the real entertainment, rather than the contrived plot. A perfect piece of entertainment for a rather rainy Easter holiday.

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