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REVIEW: The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop's Stortford

The Tiger who came to tea. Picture by Robert Day. (8600226)
The Tiger who came to tea. Picture by Robert Day. (8600226)

Everyone excitedly waves at Sophie, her mummy and her daddy as they arrive on stage and in the kitchen, which is instantly recognisable from the book.

Judith Kerr’s illustrations will be so familiar to those who have been reading it nightly for many years (it is a go-to at bedtime in this house and was written for her daughter).

Her drawings are beautifully captured in this production, the plates have the same pattern and the costumes were spot on.

Daddy causes gales of laughter as he mistakes his hat for a tea cosy and heads off to work. Then there’s a knock at the door!

All the children were eager to greet a big cat, but no, there are a few false starts as the postman and the milkman drop by. With catchy songs to keep even little children entertained.

The Tiger who came to tea. Picture by Robert Day. (8600162)
The Tiger who came to tea. Picture by Robert Day. (8600162)

This did a thorough job of building suspense for the tiger’s big entrance. All the youngsters gasped with glee as a paw appeared round the door. And though, unlike in the book, this tiger doesn’t talk, there were wonderful bits of stage wizardry as the tiger managed to eat the entire contents of the kitchen to the utter delight of the children – particularly the drinking of Daddy’s beer as well as all the water in the tap.

Once the tiger has gone they realise that there’s nothing for tea, so Sophie and her mummy and daddy go on a rather loud trip to a cafe with a song about yummy scrummy sausages, chips and ice-cream which my daughters have been singing since.

The tale ends with Sophie’s mummy buying a large tin of tiger food in case he should come to tea again. And a charming touch in the curtain call was the tiger carrying the trumpet from the endpaper of the book.

Five-year-old Imogen and Jemima loved it: “I loved the way the tiger wagged his tail” and “I loved Sophie.”

Rhodes was overflowing with happy children hopefully expecting large felines to join them at mealtimes. A lovely start to the Easter holidays.

Olivia Vandyk

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