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It wasn’t our first trip to the theatre with him.
We saw a Christmas pantomime last December. My mother bought tickets for all her children and grandchildren and all fifteen (!) of us went to her local theatre to see Peter Pan. That was the time Little Chap figured out where Tinkerbell was coming from (he followed the laser line back to the projector room behind us)! Then, we took Little Chap back to the same local theatre at Spring Half Term to watch a drama school stage their performance of The Jungle Book Kids. He loved both experiences, totally engaging with both and his only complaint was that the music in the pantomime was too noisy. He may not have been alone (cough).
On this occasion, Mayfair Dad and I took Little Chap on the train to Wimbledon, from where it was only a short walk to the theatre (about ten minutes). The Polka Theatre was a revelation as we entered a space entirely geared to children and adults with children.
The foyer is a child’s playroom, filled with books, colouring pages and crayons, rocking horses and a giant dressing up box with mini puppet theatre as well as plenty of soft seating. Outside there are tables and chairs in a little organic garden. A kids’ questionnaire highlights fruit and veg home-grown for the theatre café and outdoor artwork made from recycled bottle tops as well as nesting boxes for braver garden bird varieties! The café itself was already bustling, so we gave that a miss as we didn’t have long to meet up with friends and take our seats.
The puppet show totally captured the kids’ imagination and included sensory experiences like bubbles and shaving foam ‘snow’. The story was fun and lighthearted. A back to school theme kicked off a story of friendship through the seasons, neatly highlighting the changes that pre-school and infant school age kids experience growing up. Events in their lives like the difference between one teacher’s class and the next and interchanging friendships. Like the hugely popular television series and Lauren Child books it was something both kids and adults alike could empathise with and enjoy!