Fresh from a sold-out season at the National Theatre, The Elephantom has now arrived into the West End’s New London Theatre, also home to War Horse in the evenings.
The Elephantom is a much loved children’s picture book by award-winning Glaswegian author and illustrator Ross Collins. It is about a very bright but lonely little girl who lives a very ordinary life with two ordinary busy parents. Her life is a ‘Groundhog Day’ with the same routine day in and day out, and the evenings are spent in front of the telly. Nothing exciting ever happens until she is visited by a giant phantom elephant.
It’s all fun and games as only the girl can see the massive ballooning creature who is full of mischief and clearly intends to cause havoc. At some point, he is joined by his other giant elephant friends and they have a big party boogieing to ‘Groove is in the Heart’ and running through the audience – one of the best bits, we say!
Soon, the little girl, played by the amazingly talented Susan Harrison, decides it is time to get rid of her naughty friend and goes out with her Grandma to visit the spooky Spectral & Sons for help.
The story is told without words, through dancing, moving, gestures and hilarious facial expressions. It flows so smoothly and beautifully that no words are needed really – what a brilliant adaptation by Ben Power!
Special recognition to Adam Pleeth, the one-man band and the puppets, of course, designed by Toby Olié who is also co-director along with Finn Caldwell (both have also worked on War Horse).
That’s what Ross Collins himself had to say about the experience of watching his book come life on stage:
“Picture books are a very concise story form. You have only 14 pictures to introduce your characters and a plot, an obstacle to overcome and then to resolve it all happily. It’s not easy, and you have to lose some of the depth that you would love to have and just try your best to insinuate the greater world you’ve created into the images and limited text. For this reason, I never got to show my girl’s wonder and excitement at the arrival of her Elephantom – I had to jump right in there at the point when he was already a problem. Seeing those happy moments finally brought to life (and with tinkly music) brought a tear to this sarcastic Glaswegian’s eye…..”
We were very lucky to be invited to the official opening on Sat 5th July with a specially invited audience. We rubbed shoulders with Angela Griffin (what a stunning lady, by the way!), Nitin Ganatra, Nick Hewer, Romesh Ranganathan, David Gyasi amongst few other celebrities and their kids.
Our highlight, without a doubt, was meeting Ross Collins after the show and getting the book signed. He is calm and good-natured and seems genuinely interested in children. He made sure he spent a little time with each child individually, asking them questions about the show.
My daughter asked what the name of the little girl was which is a common question apparently. Her suggestion was Amy [anagram of her own name], and Mr Collins promised to give it as the answer from now on. So if you ever hear it, you know the story!
The show is recommended for ages 3+ and will run until 6th September 2014
Box office 020 7452 3000/ nationaltheatre.org.uk)