Now and then a theatre production/puppet show featuring one of our favourite bedtime stories comes to town. Momentarily I think it’s a fabulous idea to squeeze a little culture into Martha’s life and book tickets without hesitation.
During the seven minutes between seeing the poster and booking the tickets I have a vision of a wonderful mother and daughter experience and all-round memory maker. Hell, I even get ambitious and think we can go for an after show debrief over a babyccino just like new teenage BFFs.
All booked up I then remember the last time. And then the time before that. And I remember she is not my BFF. She is my not-quite-three-foot tall, question asking, adorable little fidget bum.
First up was the inaugural passageway to parent-like theatredom – the bubble-tented, In The Night Garden – complete with £8 exit balloon. Martha stood for the entire 45 minutes with her back to the stage refusing to watch and asking when she could go home. This was followed by months of telling anyone who would listen how much she loved the amazing Tomby-Fools show. No, you really didn’t.
Next up, was an adaption of Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. This time she was terrified by the friendliest-looking-puppet-bear I have ever seen.
So I decided maybe she was too young and I wouldn’t throw another £50 at a cultured family outing for a while.
But a year later I see Stick Man is the next story to be up in lights and I think maybe she’ll like it. So off we trot on a cold, November morning to the Warwick Arts Centre. Daddy and the little one stay home and my mind has already wandered into enjoying that glorious mum and daughter bonding session. Not a whine in spitting distance.
We arrive early and sail through the coffee round. Then it’s time to enter the theatre. We grab a booster seat as she’s still pretty diddy. After ten minutes of her arranging this on her own seat, she announces she wants to sit on my lap. No biggie. We get snuggled. The lights go down. ‘Why is it dark, Mummy? Tell them to put the lights back on’.
The very talented actors come on and precisely 37 seconds later: ‘When does it finish, Mummy?’ Oh.
Soon after the dog enters stage left and she freaks out. ‘I don’t like dogs, I like cats. Will there be a cat?’ I’ve read her the book 127 times and I know there is no feline coming up.
I’m happy we’re through the dog bit. She quietens down and settles into it. Then the play goes off script and brings back the dog – what are you doing to me? Cue the wriggling and ‘I want to go home and see Daddy’ commentary. I ignore to ensure we get our money’s worth.
I loved the show and so did all of the other kids – just not mine. It certainly wasn’t the show’s fault. I recommend it highly and it’s on from now until 31 December.
Although she will probably tell everyone she did love it – and at least the balloon was free.
Oh, and I’ve already booked What the Ladybird Heard for January. Muppet.