In the Night Garden has been amazing and wowing babies and toddlers on our television screens since 2007. It is a wonderful, magical land with many different colourful and unique characters which capture a child’s imagination and can easily keep their attention for the whole programme.
We went to see the Pinky Ponk Show at the O2 in London on 29th May 2014 with my two boys, James and William. James is 3 and enthralled daily by the adventures of Iggle Piggle and Makka Pakka. William is seven and began watching in 2007 when it all started. Although William would never choose to watch In the Night Garden now, he does love sharing the experience with his brother and remembering how much he used to enjoy the programme.
The show is performed in a purpose designed and built inflatable show-dome. It was a lot bigger than I expected and as we turned the bend and saw it and the gigantic inflatable Haa-hoos standing in front of the show-dome, both my children stood still and said ‘Wow!’ Our tickets were scanned by very friendly staff and we were let into the show dome.
We arrived 15 minutes before the doors were due to open and I was surprised at how busy it was inside. There seemed to be very little space and people were being ‘herded’ into a queuing system. It is possible we just arrived at the ‘wrong’ time but we took our place in the queue and waited. We spoke to several families who also agreed that they were put in the queue before getting a chance to visit the toilets or collect their pre-paid Goody Bags and so there were lots of people leaving the queue and returning. We also discovered that we had not been given our free Souvenir Activity Brochure so I left my children in queue while I went off to find an usher who was very polite, helpful and apologetic.
When you purchase your tickets, you do not get an allocated seat and so when the queue line opened, there was a bit of a scrum to drop pushchairs off in the buggy park and to get into the theatre. The lady behind us remarked that it reminded her of a Ryanair flight.
The seating area is made up of large, tiered steps to sit on which means there is plenty of room for children to get up and dance along and fidget and move about. It also means that children can easily see over the person in front and smaller children can stand to watch without obstructing anyone else’s view. There is also no need to feel squashed as there is plenty of space.
The free souvenir brochure was perfect for keeping my 3 year old entertained during the wait and includes a story, pictures, rhymes and photographs of the show. It is also a lovely memory of the day.
The performance was superb, it was obvious that a lot of work, time and money had gone into it to ensure that it was as close to the television show as possible. It was a mixture of full-size body suit characters and puppets to allow for the different sizes of characters in the show which I must admit confused my three year old who is very into deciding if something is ‘big’ or ‘small’ and sometimes Makka Pakka was full size (when on stage with the pontipines) and sometimes he was a smaller puppet (when on stage with Iggle Piggle) but obviously it did not spoil the performance at all! The area around and above the stage was also used with large projections which fascinated my two boys.
In the Night Garden Live is an extended version of the television programme and includes everything that it should including the small child’s hand being projected high up on the ceiling, going through the character introductions and songs, the birds singing their sounds throughout between each scene, the pagoda dance, the story, the bedtime, Iggle Piggle falling over and then the boat scene and stars again. My children found the performance amazing, funny and beautiful, whenever I looked at them, they both had huge smiles on their faces and James would be jumping and down and pointing out the different characters. There were plenty of bubbles on stage (and over the audience) whilst Makka Pakka washed the faces which made all the children squeal with excitement. It was a perfect performance without anything missing (apart from the Wottinger family although admittedly they are in very few episodes anyway and it was probably only me who missed them!)
The toilets and baby change facilities were also very good. They were in porta-cabins but every toilet had a child seat and every sink had a toddler step. There was also a good number of baby changing mats and the area was very clean. There was also plenty of space to leave pushchairs as there was an overflow buggy park near the toilets. In the foyer there were also small tables with colouring pictures and crayons for children to do which is a very nice touch although we did not use.
A visit to In the Night Garden Live is not a cheap outing but James honestly thought he had been to the actual Night Garden and has walked about all day with his souvenir brochure and pointing at it and telling people about his day. If your child is an In the Night Garden fan, they will definitely love this performance and seeing their smiles and excitement is a memory that you will always have and worth paying for.
Please visit http://www.nightgardenlive.com/ for more information, to purchase tickets and to watch the promotional trailer about the show.