Oi Frog And Friends Brings A Modern Children's Classic To Life At Lyric Theatre
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If you're the parent of a child aged under five, there's a fair to good chance you already know that cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, gophers sit on sofas — and frogs resist sitting on logs.
Kes Gray's award-winning children's book Oi Frog! and its sequels have been delightful sources of absurdist rhyming humour in households up and down the country for the last five years or so, and now Gray's text and Jim Field's illustrations are brought to life in this lively theatre show for the early years crowd.
There's a lot to like about this energetic production, performed by four multitasking singer-dancer-puppeteers with the assistance of attractive video projections and armloads of physical props. The cast are cheerfully likeable and the production design is colourful and inventive. There's music and dancing; there's light-touch audience interaction in the form of clapping along and calling-out; there are giant beachballs and a squirting elephant; there's an audacious rhyme of "cheetah" with "fajita".
The action of the book is shifted from nowhere in particular to a classroom at Sittingbottom school, which provides a neat framing context for Lucy Tuck's Cat character laying down the rhyming rules with blackboard illustrations to suit. As is almost always the case with stage adaptations of very short children's books, the action is extended with song and dance numbers; Oi Frog's! songs are for the most part fun and fit the story.
There's a moment or two where the songs take us away from the story — one number is a retro-styled flashback to Cat's secret past as a stunt performer, which isn't quite strong enough to make up for disrupting the temporal flow of the narrative. Younger audience members in the stalls around me were starting to shift in their seats around this point, and the whole production could be around ten minutes shorter in order to maintain maximum audience engagement.
Overall, however, Oi Frog and Friends! is an entertaining show with enough slapstick humour, proficient puppetry and rhyming zing to appeal to young children and their adults. Our two miniature co-critics, both aged four, loved "all of it!"
Oi Frog and Friends!, Lyric Theatre, W1D 7ES, £15.50-£23.50. Until 5 Jan (matinees only)
Review by Lise, Darien, Scarlett and Ruby-Rose
Last Updated 06 December 2019