We have always enjoyed going to the Salford Quays as a family. From The Imperial War Museum and Beefeater restaurant to the Lowry shopping centre, there is always something to see or do by the quayside. My favourite spot has to be The Lowry Theatre. I enjoy theatre and it is a love I hope to pass on to my son.
J made his debut as audience at The Lowry earlier this year, and I was delighted to take him on his second theatre outing this weekend. The weather was distinctly miserable as we made our way to watch Mr Popper's Penguins.
The storyline is quite simple, really. It is about Mr Popper, a small-town painter and decorator with a passion for adventure. His dream is to embark on an expedition to Antartica. For Mr Popper adores penguins and would like nothing more than to live with them. Life turns upside down for Mr and Mrs Popper when fantasy becomes reality and they end up with penguins in their home.
The four-person cast of the production have done an amazing job. It takes a great deal of skill to work a puppet penguin with clockwork precision, while delivering your own performance at the same time.
What stood out for me was the ease with which the puppet penguins fit in seamlessly with the humans on the stage. Yes, they were all puppets. There were no real penguins used in the production, in case somebody starts getting worked up about animal safety.
There were moments when I quite forgot they were not living creatures; they seemed so real. It has to be down to the exquisite puppetry skills of the cast of Mr Popper’s Penguins. For even a small mis-timing could have resulted in an on-stage disaster. You will have to watch the show to find out what I am talking about. I don’t care much for spoilers.
There was slapstick comedy throughout the show to keep younger members in the audience enthralled. It is the first time ever that J has guffawed so whole-heartedly at theatrical horseplay. I was half-tempted to watch him rather than the show.
And there was enough content to keep the grown-ups emotionally involved too. A particular scene, so richly personified that every parent will identify with it, almost had me blubbing.
If you are looking to watch a joyful and heart-warming tale this festive season, I can highly recommend Mr Popper’s Penguins. Oh, and don't blame me if you end up with a family of penguins in your home by the end of it.
Disclosure: We were given tickets to attend a showing of Mr Popper's Penguins. All opinions are my own.