Hey Duggee: The Live Theatre Show is playing at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall until 8 January 2023.
You may not be familiar with the BBC cartoon Hey Duggee unless you have a child, but if you do, you will no doubt be an expert by now…
It’s about a Scout leader dog, Duggee, and his group of animal scouts (‘squirrels’). In each episode, they learn about a different topic and then receive a themed badge for their efforts. Simple animation, vibrant music, a humorous voiceover and a pretty colour palette make for a winning formula. Children are obsessed and parents (speaking from experience) can happily watch several episodes: a rarity when it comes to kids’ TV. When I heard that Hey Duggee: The Live Theatre Show is playing at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall until 8 January 2023, I knew we had to go.
On entering the buzzing auditorium we are handed stickers, each one a different badge. The one-hour performance commences with an explosion of colour, upbeat dance music and of course, the characters themselves. Duggee, Nori, Happy and co. are portrayed as puppets, impressively mastered with distinctive voices to match.
The high-energy, vibrant production, co-adapted by director Matthew Xia and Vikki Stone, has a simple structure that works brilliantly: Each segment focuses on a different badge and the activity that the squirrels – and the audience – need to do to achieve it. There is the A Cappella Badge, The Egg Badge, and The Space Badge, among others.
Roll on a whirlwind of activity and entertainment, from a breakdancing Duggee (expertly commanded by Benedict Hastings) to a fashion show. A backdrop of zingy 80s-style graphics and loud music underpins this. The space section is a real highlight: Giant floating balls (planets) are released into the audience and a neon rocket ship lights up the stage. Listen out for many gasps from surrounding small people.
This production is a short and sweet burst of colour, craziness and above all, fun. My two-year-old, with her limited attention span, was captivated the entire way through – and that speaks volumes. I am sure she would have given it five stars if she could.
Hey Duggee: The Live Theatre Show will have a 4-week residency at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall until January 8th before touring across the UK and Ireland until the end of August 2023. For more information visit heyduggeelive.com
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