I have to admit, I’m not really a ‘theatre-goer’. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been to the theatre in the past 10 years; actually I’d probably only need two fingers. However, that has all changed – I’ve now been four times in the past six months!
I went to the Key Theatre for the first time in October 2013, when a friend had a spare ticket to the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which I was dubious about (I mean, Shakespeare!?), but it had me in tears of laughter. It was so funny, if it ever comes back to Peterborough, I do recommend seeing it. While I was there I picked up a brochure and saw how many shows they have for children. I thought to myself, ‘some culture would be nice for Little Miss instead of Peppa Pig on a continuous loop’. So I gathered together some friends, and we booked ourselves and four toddlers to see Big Red Bath…
First time at the Key Theatre
Big Red Bath was held in the Key Studio, which is a smaller more intimate theatre than the main Key Theatre, seating 94 (although there was nowhere near that many when we went). I think quite a few of the children’s shows are held in here.
When we arrived, we were able to wait in a small studio where we could sit down and the kids could run around. There is also an accessible toilet right by the Key Studio entrance – perfect, as I had just started potty training.
I have to admit I was slightly worried about taking Little Miss: would she sit still the whole time? What if she needed the toilet? Would she ‘get it’? I need not have worried. She was absolutely mesmerised by the whole thing. All the kids were. Some of them called out, some were dancing in the aisles, and some got so excited they were jumping up and down. Little Miss was particularly intent on pointing out that ‘it was dark’ whenever the lights went down low, in quite a loud voice. But it didn’t matter, it was all part of it.
Big Red Bath was quite an amazing performance; there was no speaking and the story was told through dance and movement. This was perfect for that age group. Even now (nearly six months on), Little Miss still talks about the show.
Little Miss becomes a regular theatre-goer
After that successful trip, we booked a Christmas visit to see the Tin Soldier. This was a love story, told through dance and movement, but with a tragic ending – the two main characters die! That was a bit of a shock (thinking; how am I going to explain this?), but Little Miss was quite happy with my explanation that they jumped into the fire so that they could be together forever.
Most recently we saw Mr and Mrs Moon. This was a completely different experience to the previous two productions, in that there were no rows of seats to sit in, the children sat around a large sandpit, and the story was told around them. They were encouraged to play in the sand and get up, walk around and dance – something Little Miss took full advantage of. It was so cleverly done, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
The three shows we have seen were particularly suited to toddlers and pre-schoolers, but there is plenty on offer for older children as well. Some of the shows coming up are:
- Fireside Tales with Grandad, 8 March (1pm, 3pm): This uses puppets to re-tell the story of Grandad escaping from a hungry shark; featuring goblins, trolls and a princess (as any good story should). Suitable for 4+
- Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play, 15, 16 April (11am, 1.30pm): A must-see for any fans of the TV show. Charlie, Lola and friends are brought to life through puppets, live action and music. Suitable for 3+
- Curious Creatures, 19 April (10.30am, 2.30pm): A comedy about ‘Curious Creatures’, a wildlife park where nothing ever goes according to plan… Suitable for 5+
All the important bits
Key Theatre is on the Embankment in central Peterborough, PE1 1EF.
The closest car park is the Riverside (Embankment Road), where you can park for £2.30 for 2 hours, or £3.30 for 3 hours. We’ve always just paid for 2 hours, and that is plenty. The shows we have been to were all around 45 minutes long. We’ve never had a problem finding a space in this car park for the day time performances.
Ticket prices vary, depending on the show, but children’s tickets are between £6.50 – £8.50, and adult’s £8 – £12.50. There are sometimes family rates available. You can book online or tel: 01733 207239.
Eating and drinking
There is a café at the Key Theatre, Café Clarkes, but it’s never been open when we’ve been. I see on the website that it is open for lunch 12pm – 2.30pm. There is a little kiosk by the entrance to the Key Studio and that sells sweets, chocolate, crisps and drinks. We usually bring our own snacks for pre- or post-show.
There is a baby changing station in the ladies toilets downstairs – it is in one of the cubicles, with a toilet as well. There is also the accessible toilet by the entrance to the Key Studio, perfectly placed for an emergency dash during a performance!