Review – Oi Frog & Friends at Lighthouse Theatre, Poole

My husband, three-year-old and I were invited to see the live stage production of Oi Frog & Friends this morning (Saturday 26 February) at Lighthouse, Poole, and if I had to sum it up in just three words they would be: zany, fun and delightful.

Based on the bestselling books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, which my son absolutely loves, the stage adaptation takes place at The Sittingbottom School for Animals. Frog, a creative rebel, is looking for a place to sit, but the sardonic rule-keeper Cat has other ideas and Dog (the go-between) is happy to play along. Little do they know that chaos is coming – Frog is about to steal Cat’s rule book and change who is allowed to sit where. No longer will “Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas and frogs sit on logs.” But, ‘Dogs will sit on logs, cats will sit on gnats, mice will sit on ice, and poor whales, will sit on nails!’ Needless to say, Frog gets a little bit carried away…

Oi Frog & Friends is action-packed – loaded with original songs, puppets, laughs, silliness (my son loved the toilet humour), and of course, more rhyme that you can shake a chime at! The staging and costumes are brilliant too. And I loved the addition of the digital chalkboard that included loads of great illustrations from the much-loved children’s books.

My son was entertained throughout the 60 minute stage-show. Laughing, smiling and clapping with the biggest smile on his face throughout. What’s great is that they involve the audience too. Asking everyone to guess the animal rhymes and sing along to the songs. If you can, try and arrive a bit early. The cast come into the audience and ask the children their names and if they can think of a rhyming word of what they could sit on. My son Jack, sits on sacks for example. And the girl sat next to us, Jane, sits on planes. Spoiler alert: they read them all out at the end of the show, much to the delight of the young members of the audience as they recognise their name.

Oi Frog & Friends will remind you of The Muppet Show – using vibrant costumes, songs and silliness to inform their storytelling. And it works. Every child sat with us at Lighthouse, Poole had the most wonderful time, evident from the huge round of applause and cheering at the end of this morning’s production. It’s no wonder it’s been nominated for awards. I hope the cast and crew fill a whole trophy cabinet for the happiness they brought my little boy today!

If you can, go and see Oi Frog & Friends – it’s of course intended for children (of all ages), but adults, you’ll love it too! It ends its run at Poole Lighthouse on Sunday 27 February, but then moves on to other towns and cities throughout the UK from March to June including Croydon, Exeter, York, Taunton, Cardiff, Coventry, Birmingham and Glasgow. You can view all dates and venues for the tour on Oi Frog & Friends website.

My son’s review as we left the theatre: “I loved Oi Frog. It was such good fun.” And I’m sure he’ll be telling all his friends the same when he sees them too.


Review – Pinocchio at Lighthouse Theatre, Poole

Pinocchio, Lighthouse Theatre, Poole

I was invited to review the premiere of Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company’s new adaption of of Carlo Collodi’s classic story Pinocchio at Lighthouse, Poole. The story of a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy, Pinocchio has entertained families for generations, so I was keen to see the Bridport-based production company’s contemporary take on one of my childhood favourite tales.

Stuff and Nonsense started work on Pinocchio, their biggest production to date, long before the first lockdown of 2020. They always work with children to devise their plays because they have the most amazing ideas and imagination certainly shone through the performance.

Highly physical, the story involved the company’s staples of puppetry and live music and featured three actors representing father, son and grandfather who find themselves in a grand, old abandoned house. The show centred around a huge dining table, the heart of family life, which became the performers’ playground, crammed with hidden drawers and compartments where puppets popped out and the actors jumped and flipped over.

If you’re hoping for a production that very much sticks to the 19th century classic, this isn’t the show for you. All the elements of the original story are there, a poor woodcarver, the tell-tale growing nose, the dream of becoming a real boy, but you really have to unlock your imagination to truly enjoy the energetic, thought-provoking adaption Stuff and Nonsense have created.

My little boy is nearly three and Pinocchio was his first trip to the theatre, so I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But I was amazed. He sat still for the entire production, just over an hour, and seemed fascinated by the puppetry and live music, clapping along and talking to us about what he was seeing on stage. It was so lovely to be a part of. And as we walked out the theatre, he turned to me and said: “Mummy, I liked that.” High praise indeed for a toddler who at times can be very hard to please!

It was so great being back in a theatre again after what has been an extremely difficult time for the arts sector. The show was extremely clever and I was very impressed by the fantastic use of staging, which is definitely one of the key elements, along with the lively music, that kept my little boy transfixed throughout.

Pinocchio plays at Theatre Royal Plymouth over Christmas before touring next year. So if you’re looking for something a little different to your average panto then check it out!

Food, Reviews

Slim Chickens, Big Pickings

A great new addition to Bh2 Leisure, Bournemouth.

Slim Chickens Bournemouth

I was lucky enough to be invited to try out Slim Chickens, the latest addition to Bh2 Leisure in Bournemouth. And I was not disappointed!

It’s an American brand with over 80 restaurants in the Southern states. There’s three restaurants in central London and the closest to Bournemouth is in Southampton, which launched earlier this year.

You know it’s American from the portion sizes – they’re huge! Take a look at my photos to see for yourself. I went with my husband and son and we could have easily shared one portion of fries between the three of us. You can ‘go large’ on any meal for an extra £1, but you really don’t need to. I went into Slim Chickens feeling very hungry and left feeling like I needed to be rolled out of there – but in a good way!

The menu is definitely not ‘slim pickings.’ From 100% British buttermilk marinated tenders and wings to fried chicken sandwiches, salads, wraps and signature sides – all cooked to order. There’s a kids menu too. It only features two dishes, Chicken Tenders and Mac & Cheese, so if you have a fussy eater, you may be stuck, but there’s always fries!

My two-year-old had the Mac & Cheese and it was very tasty – I tried it just to make sure! I went for the Slim’s Wrap, featuring chicken tenders, lettuce, tomato and house ranch sauce and my husband had the Buffalo Sandwich packed with fried chicken shaken in buffalo sauce, lettuce, pickles, crispy fried onions and blue cheese sauce. For an extra £2 you can upgrade your drinks to hand spun shakes and it was the best decision – the Oreo shake was so incredibly tasty. I dread to think how many crushed Oreo’s were in it, but it was totally worth the calories. We also ordered a side of fried onions, which were lovely and crispy.

The décor is pretty cool too. American sports bar vibes with a choice of booths, tables or bar seating. You can order yourself via the touchscreen kiosks, or at the counter. We received our meals within just five minutes of ordering and it was really busy being a Saturday lunchtime during the school holidays, so I can’t fault the service.

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in between shopping, before a trip to the cinema, or after a family day out, Slim Chickens is the place to go. Great tasting food, big portion sizes and fast service, all at a reasonable price.

Thanks for having us Slim Chickens, we’ll definitely be back!