Sarah and Duck (3 stars)

Sarah and Duck

credit: Pamela Raith

Stage version of the BAFTA-award winning CBeebies animation captures the original's essence

There is a slightly surreal feel to this hour-long stage adaptation of CBeebies animation, Sarah and Duck which reflects the original but which isn't quite in sync with a live performance.

The plot includes all the necessary elements and characters, as little girl Sarah and her companion Duck discover that it's Scarf Lady's birthday, and conspire to create a big top birthday bash for her. John and his Flamingo, the Ribbon Twins, Moon and even Bug make their appearances. Aficionados will also happily note that Sarah plays Tuba.

Roger Allam provides the voice of the narrator, with his slightly off-key comments which go just above Sarah's head, and Lesley Nicol is the voice of Scarf Lady – the only character represented by a human, not a puppet.

With its episodic structure, the show hits the right pacing to engage its target 3–6-year-old audience, and the puppet-makers have got Sarah and Duck's look just right. The big quibble, though, is in the puppetry itself. The five puppeteers/actors never embody their puppet's desires, largely because nearly all the dialogue is recorded. It's noticeable that on the one occasion they do speak – to interact with the narrator and build the big top – the pace and immediacy pick up.

Underbelly Cow Barn, until 20 August (not 14), 11.10am, £11–£12 (£9.50–£10.50).

Sarah and Duck

  • 3 stars

MEI Theatrical The enchanting world of Sarah and Duck is brought to life in a brand-new stage production, featuring the wonderful characters from the BAFTA award-winning CBeebies show. Told through a fantastic blend of puppetry, storytelling and music, Sarah and Duck's Big Top Birthday will take you and your children…

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