Theatre review - The Smartest Giant in Town

THE Little Angel’s heart-warming production of The Smartest Giant in Town gets a richly deserved festive run in the West End.

George, a kindly giant, wishes he wasn’t so scruffy – his sandals have seen better days and his long shirt is patched. So when he sees a new shop selling super-sized clothes, he decides it’s time to upgrade his look. He is soon kitted out in a new shirt and stripy tie, some smart trousers and shiny black shoes. Now he’s the smartest giant in town.

But as George struts around, proud of his finery, he bumps into some animals who need his help – a giraffe suffers from a cold neck, a goat has lost the sail to his boat, some mice are in want of a new home, a fox has dropped his sleeping bag in a puddle and a delightfully mucky dog keeps falling into bogs.

Soon George is offering them his help (and his clothes!) and it’s not long before he’s left wearing only a vest and pants.

Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane’s musical adaptation of the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler extends the story to 50 minutes’ duration. Each of the beautiful puppets, designed and made by Judith Hope, get their time in the spotlight.

We never get to see Ashton Owen, who remains ensconced in his over-sized head, but his George is a gentle giant, immediately likeable and never scary. Puppeteers Heidi Goldsmith and James Keningale are captivating as the two tailors and various animals, adopting different accents and ensuring each one is nuanced and bursting with vitality.

Kate Bunce’s simple set is brilliantly utilised – I love how an old bath mat becomes a puddle – and it’s packed full of Jungr’s catchy tunes and some cracking harmonies.

Aimed at ages 2-8 years, Lane’s playful production has a strong moral at its heart about helping others. We even get a mini lesson in French. A real treat.

Until January 1

Originally published by Westminster Extra