I received an email a few weeks ago which really took me back in time. We moved to North Oxfordshire from Surrey when I was 14, and I lived around the area ever since. Monkey and I were invited to a performance of Mr Tiger Goes Wild at The Mill Arts Centre during last week’s half term break. I used to visit The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury a lot when I was younger and lived close by. The email made me realise that it’s a perfect venue for Monkey as it’s quite small (200 seats) and therefore not so daunting as larger theatres can be. In fact I kicked myself, why had I never thought to visit with Monkey before?
The Centre hosts a number of events for children and adults, as well as craft courses. I can remember seeing a few of my 80’s favourite pop stars there too over the last 20 years. There is something for everyone, and the venue is located across the canal from the Castle Quay shopping centre, and has pay and display parking all around.
We’d been invited to try the Activity Hour before the show started which I thought would be a great idea. It would get Monkey into the Tiger theme and give him a chance to get used to a new environment. We arrived a few minutes early, which gave us a chance to have a drink in the cafe area and read up a little on the story of Mr Tiger Goes Wild (a book we actually haven’t read before).
We were then called through to the activity area, an open planned area between the cafe and theatre itself. We could make Tiger name initials, colour and stick stripes on a Tiger picture and make Tigers with hand prints. There was also an area for reading and play. The Activity Hour was well thought out and, yet again, I could see a real difference in Monkey. Ho got straight down to work colouring, gluing, sticking and creating. He was his normal shy self with the helpers but he was joining in and having fun.
Monkey’s nearly 6 and there was a good mix of children, both younger and older than him, all having fun and showing us their wild side. Before we knew it, it was time for the performance of Mr Tiger Goes Wild and we took our places inside the theatre to watch the 2 man production from The Goblin Theatre Company.
The show is based on the picture book of the same name by Peter Brown and tells the story of the friendship between Mr Tiger and Mr Deer. They live in the city, wear the same suits and do the same, civilised things every day. Mr Deer is happy with their lives but Mr Tiger yearns for something more. He wants to be free to dress how he likes, make loud music and have some wild fun. Mr Deer isn’t convinced and his friend leaves him behind in the city and strikes out on his own.
But life in the jungle, in the rain, without his friend isn’t all that Mr Tiger thought it would be. The wildest life can be rather lonely, friends really make life more interesting. With plenty of singing, music and audience participation, Monkey absolutely loved Mr Tiger Goes Wild. Monkey loved the fact that Mr Deer had antlers coming out of his top hat and that Mr Tiger much preferred a tasselled leather jacket to a dinner jacket. The staging was very clever and the show was funny, with a good message behind it. All the children seemed enthralled. It was a hit as far as we were concerned.
For £8.50 a ticket we were both really impressed, and we’ll certainly be looking at other performances in the future. To see what’s on at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury for yourself, why not pop over to their website.
disclaimer: we were given complimentary tickets for this event in exchange for an honest review