REVIEW: In the Night Garden Live @ Sefton Park 18/07/10

Something magical happened in Sefton park as Upsy Daisy, Iggle Piggle and Makka Pakka brought the BBC TV show In the Night Garden to life. Rich Denton took his excited young family along to see what they could find…

If you don’t have a child under the age of five or have never happened to flick over to the cBeebies channel on your digibox, the mere mention of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka will only warrant a response of “Have you gone completely insane?”. But as any parent with a baby or toddler will know BBC’s In the Night Garden is a magical programme that has mesmerised a whole generation and at the same time created a global phenomenon.

So ever since two large purpose built inflatable domes rose among the trees of Sefton Park there has been a buzz around the region as Liverpool became the first city to host In the Night Garden Live, what was promised to be an amazing musical theatre experience for all the family.

After no more than a ten minute wait as tickets were scanned, we were quickly inside the bespoke arena. The first of the two domes housed a ticket office and obligatory merchandise and refreshment stands (for those with bottomless pockets). But it was also clear that, with more than enough space to park the multitude of buggies and prams and a microwave on hand to warm baby food, the producers were making every effort to make the experience as stress free as possible.

There are two different shows to choose from the ‘Ninky Nonk’ or the ‘Pinky Ponk’ with each lasting an hour and both include all the favourite characters from the show.  The toilets and baby changing facilities are also the cleanest you are likely to find at any outdoor event this summer.

{pullquote}puzzled looks soon turned to joyous ones as the sky blue Iggle Piggle appeared{/pullquote}I brought along my two daughters aged 2&5 and as we walked through into the large arena their faces lit up as we entered the world of the night garden. The design was first class with wide seating areas gently stepping down towards the large grass covered stage giving plenty of room for restless toddlers to move and dance about.

As the show began we were fooled somewhat as the first few moments were played out with small puppets of the characters. The puzzled looks soon turned to joyous ones as the sky blue Iggle Piggle appeared and sailed his boat across the sea to the land that exists somewhere between waking and sleeping.

{pgomakase}There were gasps of awe and cheers from the toddlers as one by one the real full size versions of their favourite TV characters appeared on the stage all in a search for Iggle Piggle’s missing blanket.

The transitions between settings are well put together with four puppetier-come-dancers whirling around the stage changing the set as they go and just as in the TV show the tale is interlaced with singing birds and blooming flowers which are projected on to the vast walls behind the stage.

Unfortunately it was a very warm day and as the mid afternoon sun beat down on the show domes the air inside became uncomfortably hot. There seemed to be a lack of air conditioning and a some families left during the second half as the temperature became a concern. The producers have been caught out here and this will need to be addressed as the tour continues. If you are planning to take your family make sure you have plenty of drinks to hand.

Overall the Night Garden Live experience was a good one and most importantly the little people loved it. The show runs until Sunday 1st August and tickets are still available priced from £10


The producer of In the Night Garden Live Andrew Collier contacted us to explain the temperature issues:
“You’re right that we were caught out with the temperature on Sunday, although it wasn’t the sun’s fault… we’d been making some last minute changes to the lighting over the lunch break which meant the stage lighting was kept on all lunchtime. Normally this period is used to cool the domes down. We do have air conditioning installed, but without the cool down period on Sunday it wasn’t sufficient. All of yesterday’s performances (with a proper lunch break) were at a more normal temperature!”

“We’ve offered everyone at the show you saw a free rebooking to see the Pinky Ponk show. Also, to make sure it can’t ever happen again, we’re installing more powerful air conditioning within the next day.”

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