We took advantage of the free parking in Newcastle after 5pm and as the darkness enclosed around us, it felt like a real treat. We even managed a quick drink in Mckenna's before curtain up. I made the mistake of browsing their winter programme as I now want to see everything! How old are children before they can be left at home alone?? I'm obviously joking here but if anyone wants to babysit so we can watch The Suggestibles, please let me know - :-)
We headed into Stage One for the 7pm start (I love that there are plastic cups on the bar for you to decant your drinks into if needed) and were amused to see the exact same radio I have in my office playing on stage to set the scene as everyone settled.
The Hogwallops are introduced on stage as a chaotic family who bicker, fight and play practical jokes on each other. The stage often resembles an adventure playground more than their home and the casts perfectly choreographed sequences received lots of gasps and cheers from the audience.
Recommended for families with children aged 3+, it was Jack (5) and Heidi (7) who really got the most from the performance from our group. Jack was jumping up and down in his seat, shouting and laughing very loudly at the comedy slapstick. He actually fell off his seat laughing at one point. The scene where the family fight over a banana was his favourite (and now I fear it may be recreated at home!). The aerial acrobats and routines were a bit lost on him but that's why this is a family show as personally, they were my favourite part. The performance is split into mini sketches that turn every day household chores and routines into funny skits featuring acrobats, tumbles and characters flying through the air. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Heidi giggled the whole way through the 1 hour show and spent the performance snuggled into her dad. It was nice that they shared the magic of theatre together. Harry (a 'mature' 10 year old) normally loves this sort of thing and has been known to cry with laughter during similar performances but tonight was the first time I noticed that he wasn't laughing at the slapstick as much as his brother and sister were - he's definitely growing up! He did still enjoy it and was on the edge of his seat at some points but I think he's at that age where having too much fun obviously isn't the done thing.
I loved the comparisons to our family on stage - mum being surrounded by laundry and screaming at her family to help sort it out, siblings bickering and fighting, family rituals to sort out disputes, flour going everywhere when you're trying to bake a cake...........but then at the end, everyone comes together to bake a special birthday cake. Dysfunctional but together when it matters. I'm sure a lot of families who watch this performance will nod along in agreement and see a bit of themeselves on stage.
With lots of comedy, audience participation and belly laughs for the kids, I'm not surprised the cast received a standing ovation on opening night. I'm always honest with my reviews and I will say it's not up there with the best performance I've watched but for just £40 for a family of 4 it is definitely worth a watch, especially if your kids like silly and over the top humour.
Hogwallops continues at Northern Stage this Saturday (29th) at 1pm and 5pm. You can buy tickets here.
Disclosure : We were provided with press tickets