Town Hall, Birmingham – until 15 April 2017
The Scarecrows’ Wedding is one of Julia Donaldson’s popular children’s stories, with engaging characters, it’s bags of fun and takes the reader on a quest for the best wedding yet. There are pros and cons to the stage version by Scamp Theatre, musically it’s a strong production but visually it lacked the stimuli to hold my toddler’s attention and the same could be said for fellow pre-school theatre-goers sitting in the stalls.
The concept of the story is a touching one, and incorporates many quirky characters which capture the imagination. This piece is performed as a three-hander with Joanna Brown playing Betty the scarecrow, Sam Heron playing Harry the scarecrow, these scarecrows love each other and they decide to get married. They make a list of must-haves for their big day and acquire help from various creatures to assist them in ticking off everything on their list. Mark Kane plays the Farmer and all of the other characters, from a snail to a crab to a French scarecrow – his ability to vocalise each role with a different accent is remarkable. All three members of the cast are talented musicians and make good use of this throughout each of the catchy musical numbers.
The set and props, although slightly tired-looking, possessed redeeming qualities such as an armchair that turned into a motor car, however from row J of the stalls it was not always easy to see the hillside in the background. There were also other elements of the scenery which were lost on my Son because the set didn’t appear to lend itself to the space. Perhaps more of a nod towards the fact that Betty and Harry are scarecrows wouldn’t have gone amiss, either – although I am aware that the characters in the book don’t entirely resemble scarecrows in a typical way, they are somewhat humanised in the illustrations.
Overall if your child is a fan of the book I think it’s worth a watch, I was aware of some young patrons who could quote along with the show. The audience engagement at the beginning was a great gimmick and the sheer variety of instruments that the cast were able to switch between was impressive in itself. You can catch the show on UK tour throughout 2017.