Giraffes Can't Dance Review

Guy Parker-Rees and Giles Andreae's best selling picture book, Giraffes Can't Dance, is wonderfully reimagined for the stage in a co-production between Curve, Rose Theatre Kingston and Simon Friend.
The cast of Giraffes Can't Dance. Photo by Pamela Raith.
Julia Thomas has done a fabulous job with her adaptation and direction. She makes the piece instantly interactive as the cast mingles with the audience prior to the show starting. This really helps the younger audience members get involved. That inclusive message of self-belief and acceptance carries through the piece.

Telling the story of Gerald the Giraffe who longs to go to the great Jungle Dance (think Strictly Come Dancing but with jungle animals!), but can't due to the fact he can't dance. With the help of a kind cricket (and the support of the audience - who are referred to as ants) Gerald is encouraged with the notion that everyone is different and we can all succeed when we find our own song. Predictably by the end finds Gerald finds his rhythm and wows with his own dance routine.

Tasha Taylor Johnson has created a great soundtrack which brings the beats of the jungle to life. The songs are catchy and enthusiastically performed. Clever design by Simon Kenny and with lighting by Jane Lalljee enhance the feel of the jungle with a vibrant colour scheme. Mel Knott's movement is fresh, with a classy feel to numbers like the Tangoing Tigers or the Waltz Walruses. There is also nods to more modern dances including those made famous by the game Fortnite.
Sophie Coward as Gerald the Giraffe.
Photo by Pamela Raith.
The 5 cast members are full of energy and are clearly having a fun time performing the piece. Sophie Coward is tremendous as Gerald, particularly in the scenes where he's lost hope. She conveys the emotions of the character really well. Phyllis Ho is charming as the cricket, she's instantly likeable. Joshua Coley, Gracia Rios and Jason Yeboa carry a lot of the show with numerous quick changes and playing various jungle friends, they do a fantastic job in all the roles. All 5 interact well with the audience and the audience interacts well back - at no time does it feel forced.

It's wonderful to see audiences members, especially the younger ones, so engrossed with the piece. Getting younger ones into the theatre is so vital and there can't be many better shows to get the youngsters on board than this. It carries a beautiful message that we all may be different, that it's okay to feel lonely and perhaps you just haven't found your own song yet. 55 minutes of jungle joy.

Rating: ★★★★ - brilliantly crafted engaging family theatre with an important message. A joy for the young and the young at heart.

Giraffes Can't Dance plays at Curve until Sunday 5th January 2020 visit https://www.curveonline.co.uk/ to book. It plays at the Rose Theatre Kingston between 8th and 19th April 2020 https://www.rosetheatrekingston.org with a tour planned.
Gracia Rios and Joshua Coley as Jungle Friends. Photo by Pamela Raith

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