Emily Brown and The Thing at The Patrick Studio in the Birmingham Hippodrome is a charming show which is a delight for the whole family. It would make an ideal first theatre experience for young children as it is based on the beloved children’s book by Cressida Cowell. We have seen several shows from Tall Stories and have enjoyed them all, but this topped them all. They really capture the magic of childhood and get the mix of storytelling, puppetry and songs absolutely right to enthral the audience.

Emily Brown and Stanley

We love the character of Emily Brown and Sophie Alice brings her to life beautifully, she manages to capture her sweet and lively nature with a beguiling innocence. Emily Brown is a wonderful heroine: brave and plucky with a fantastic imagination, though admittedly, not very good at going to sleep. She is entirely relatable and exemplifies the importance of being kind. Stanley, her rabbit companion is delightful. I love how his fur looks like he been very well loved. The show is incredibly inventive in how it portrays all the characters, sometimes they are puppets, sometimes small toys and sometimes a full-sized character. The transitions capture the whimsical nature of a child’s imagination. To them, their toys can become as big as they are and they can go on adventures together.

At its heart, Emily Brown and the Thing is a show about facing your fears. Emily Brown finds The Thing on her windowsill crying and sets about on a series of adventures to help him fall asleep. She teaches him to not be scared. It is wonderful how the different characters are brought to life by only three actors. There is a troll, wolves The Thing, Stanley rabbit, a polar bear and even a witch. Each has a distinct personality and the costumes are adorable. We especially loved the tiny raincoat belonging to Stanley and how he even had a tiny clothes hanger to put it on and a tiny clothes hook for his woolly hat.

We found the show really funny, with lots of visual gags and slapstick and a few gross-out jokes for the children. We loved the whole snow sequence brilliant. The characters slide down a snowy hill, made of the scarves and then skate across the ice, without realising they have been joined by a polar bear. The music and songs are atmospheric and are really catchy. We will be singing the bedtime song for weeks. The story ends on a high note as the characters can finally go to sleep and get to share a dream. It is a brilliant story for children who are scared of the dark as it leaves with the message that you should think of things which make you happy when you are going to sleep. It was a touching ending which lkeft us with a warm happy glow.

The price of the show is really reasonable with tickets costing just £12.50. There is also a really good family offer: Up to 3 children with 1 adult or 2 adults and 2 children for £32, available on all performances.
Or add an additional 2 family/friends (adults or children) for £36. 

We were treated to tasty cupcakes at the press show.

The show is 55 minutes without an interval, so perfect for younger audiences. The small auditorium is well suited to younger children. You can buy some simple refreshments before and also copies of the book. The girls would have loved a plush toy of Stanley and The Thing for the show. It is also worth getting there a bit early as there are crafts and colouring in the foyer.

Emily Brown and The Thing is on until Sunday 6 Jan 2019

Watch the trailer here:

Disclaimer: We were given a family ticket for the purposes of this review.