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Interesting mix of puppetry and acting

Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone

Keeping parents as happy as their offspring can often be hard work for a theatre production – aim at the parents and you’ll lose the youngsters’ attention, and vice versa.

But Noggin the Nog, staged at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone could not have kept a virtually full house of parents and youngsters, some aged as young as two or three, completely happy.

Admittedly some parents, like myself, may have been attracted by the name – the story by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, once on children’s television many years back – but that soon gave way to genuine laughter as the four-man team entertained us all with humour, songs, puppetry and jaw-dropping staging, despite very few props.

The best had to be transforming the entire theatre into a cave filled with gold and jewels, simply with clever lighting and a glitter ball.

The action was an interesting mix of puppetry and acting from the four, including switching to playing women by donning some fetching Viking plaits.

The puppets came in an array of sizes, from small Noggin and his bride, quietly inching together, to the enormous but friendly ice dragon.

There was also plenty of drama and, what children love, booing the baddy, Nogbad the Bad, who may or may not have ended up living with his granny in Finland when he was banished.

One of the nicest aspects of the show, which captured the interest of all throughout, was the relaxed delivery from the four actors, who seemed from the outset as though we already knew them.

Fittingly, some of them came into the audience at the end to chat to some of the audience. It’s just a shame it was a one-off production and more people won’t get to share in the fun.

Angela Cole

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