The much-loved childrens’ book series Oi Frog has hopped on to a West End stage and become a family theatre experience. Big fans of the books, we went along to check it out. Here’s our review…
By Amy Brotherton
‘Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas and frogs sit on logs.’
If you know what book I’m referring to just by reading that last sentence, then boy do I have a show you and your kids will enjoy.
Whether you have just one book or the whole series – Oi Frog!, Oi Dog!, Oi Cat! and Oi Duck-billed Platypus!, are much loved in many family homes for author Kes Gray’s hilarious rhyming prose about where all critters should sit, and Jim Field’s remarkably endearing ability to illustrate such scenarios. And if you haven’t read any of these books yet then hop to it, they make reading with kids extra fun. I would definitely recommend having read at least one of them a few times before going to see this show.
I took my 4-year-old daughter to see this show at the Lyric Theatre; she was so excited she brought her copy of Oi Frog! on the bus and we read it again and again en route. Because the rhyming language of the books is so catchy, even quite young kids will instantly feel at home with the stage show begins and they hear the familiar prose coming from the cast. We sat in the Stalls of the theatre, and were glad they had boosters seats on offer as she need one to see over some adults. But once up on her little perch she was fine. The show lasts approximately an hour and she was engaged and entertained throughout.
The animal puppets and costuming used in the show accurately reflect the illustrations in the book; it really looks like that frog has just leapt out of the pages on to the stage, to sit on his unfortunate seat – the nobbly and uncomfortable log.
When the show begins it’s a new day at Sittingbottom school and Frog is looking for a place to sit, but snooty Cat has other ideas and Dog is doing as he’s told. Little do any of them know that chaos is coming. Fed-up splinter-bottomed frog grabs the rule book and starts dishing out his own rhymes. Eventually he grows drunk on power, isolates himself at the peak of his career and then faces the consequences before learning important lessons. I found the plot twists had some hilariously dark comedy elements to them, and the kids all just seemed to find everything silly and fun.
There are some fabulous original song and dance routines (I was partial to the glitzy Cheetah making fajitas) and audience participation moments which I won’t give away here. You might get a bit wet. You might get to smack a beach ball. And your dad might become as cast member. That’s all I’m saying.
Hailed as one of the bestselling picture book series of the decade, with more than 900,000 copies sold to date and growing, it seems high time these tales hit the stage. Author Kes Gray said, “Just when we thought we knew where we were heading, Oi takes a leap in an entirely new direction! Working with Kenny and his outstanding creative team is a dream come true. Illustrator Jim Field says, “I am pinching myself about Oi Frog! now coming to the stage.”
Oi Frog & Friends! runs in London until 5 January 2020.
Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, W1D 7ES
For more information and to book tickets visit www.nimaxtheatres.com
Tickets gifted for review purposes.