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Belgrade set to take us from the cradle to the sixth form

BARBARA GOULDEN previews a series of Belgrade shows aimed at children and teenagers

Children and teenagers should prepare to be drowned in drama this spring with the Belgrade Theatre offering everything from The Gruffalo to Billionaire Boy, and from a puppet version of George Orwell's Animal Farm to Hamlet - The Comedy! Talk about making up for lost virus time.

The action kicks off with the thought-provoking Billionaire Boy (Feb 17) based on the hugely popular book by David Walliams.

Twelve-year-old Joe Spud, played by Matthew Gordon, is a lad who seems to have everything. Pet crocodiles, his own sports car, not to mention £100,000 a week pocket money.

What he doesn't have is a friend.

For the GCSE and A-level set The Belgrade in association with Birmingham Rep is offering a new stage adaptation of Animal Farm (April 12-16).

Some clever puppetry is involved in this recreation of the classic George Orwell tale in which we learn how some animals become more equal than others.

Also aimed at older audiences is the dramatisation of Michael Murpurgo's story, Private Peaceful (May 17-21). The plot follows the lives of two teenage brothers during the First World War - the conflict everyone expects will be over by Christmas. As the romance of going off to war is eclipsed by grim reality, one jealous brother reflects on the girl they both love, then deliberately disobeys orders.

At the other end of the age scale comes The Gruffalo (June 1 & 2) and Oi Frog and Friends! (May 13 &14), both aimed at the three and upwards market.

After that it's anyone's guess what the Oddsocks touring company will make of Hamlet - The Comedy! (June 14-16). Yes, that's comedy. and there are certainly more things - including music and knock-knock jokes - than anyone dreamt of in their philosophy (sorry, Shakespeare!).

It might give students the giggles, but just might also give them a better handle on the plot.

Tickets and info from: https://www.belgrade.co.uk/