Animalcolm is an adaptation of David Baddiel’s children’s book of the same name. It’s the only one of his books my children haven’t read, so it was perfect to see the show with fresh eyes. With it’s animal theme, it was also an obvious choice for us, my boys aged six, eight and nine have grown up with a dog, two cats and some hens not forgetting the beehive and frogs in the garden.

David Baddiel has never lived without animals either, he currently has four cats and a guinea pig. He wrote Animalcolm as he wanted to explore what it would be like if you didn’t immediately feel drawn to animals or find them cute or funny.

With Baddiel behind the show, Story Pocket Theatre who are renowned for producing children’s stories, have created a fun family musical comedy. The story centres around Malcolm, a young boy who does not like animals, which is a problem as the family home is full of pets. He really wants a new laptop for his birthday but instead he gets a pet chinchilla and a ticket for the annual three-day school trip to a farm full of animals.

During a very unusual weekend adventure, Malcolm has a spell put on him by K-Pax one of the goats on the farm and learns what it is like to be an animal. The Scottish Goaty McGoatface, German pig Mabel and my favourite, the cockney cockerel with a tannoy, give the production that extra level of humour to reach the adults too.

Malcolm starts to appreciate just how amazing animals really are and so there is a lesson about understanding others and being empathetic. He also learns that sometimes it is hard to be yourself which is was a good discussion point after the show for my older children.

The six cast members were excellent, switching between characters and swift costume changes effortlessly. The animal characters are brought to life through movement and the tortoises were particular favourites of ours.

As ever my nine year old was intrigued by the set and how it was being used throughout the production. A series of cages like one you might keep a pet chinchilla in, was able to house costumes and props but was also integrated into the show brilliantly as part of the set design.  You can tell it’s a theatre company that have the expertise and experience to produce a high calibre show.

It is advertised for over 5’s and I would advise to stick to that recommendation. There were a few younger members of the audience that I noticed who were restless or had to leave. It’s a shame the show is in the Debating Hall at the Gilded Balloon, as it doesn’t have tiered seating, so I would advise getting there really to get seats near the stage or you’ll end up having younger children on your lap. Finally at an hour and ten minutes, it’s  a little too long in my eyes.

Conrad (aged nine) gave the show eight and a half out of ten, Magnus (aged eight) six out of ten, Walter (aged six) four out of ten. Harsh critics, however William the six year old friend we took with us gave it an absolute ten out of ten!

In all in a fun family show!

P.S. We were gifted tickets for the purpose of this review but of course, all thoughts, words, and opinions are our own!

Animalcolm is on at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, Aug 8-12, 14-19 at 11.30am – tickets are available here!

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