Review: Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Live

The way my life has changed since becoming a parent can be summed up quite well with the following fact.

The last show I saw pre-parenthood was a performance of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart. This weekend my first show post-parenthood was Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Live.

Could there be two more polar opposite things? I doubt it. Although I was sure I heard Ben say “Et tu, Holly?” when she let him get washed away by the river of jelly. Yes, I know “Et tu, Brute?” was in Julius Caesar, but it’s still Shakespeare!

Anyway, now our adult lives are dominated by all things toddler we decided to take both children to see Ben and Holly at The Hexagon in Reading. Our eldest absolutely loves this show, and we do too, as like Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol it acts as a mute button during even the worst of tantrums.

We had a bit of a debate about taking our seven-month-old along as we obviously can’t guarantee if and when she will be calm or have a class A meltdown. In the end we decided to go for it as we reasoned this is a show for small children and one of us could always take the baby outside if we needed to.

We need not have worried, as both my baby and, most importantly, my toddler loved the entire thing.

From the second Ben stepped out on stage closely followed by Princess Holly with her magic wand, my little girl was utterly spellbound. She sat enraptured by the two characters as they came to life before her eyes.

The show begins with just Ben and Holly playing a bit of hide-and-seek and chatting to the audience. Then it follows the two mischievous characters as they meet familiar friends and go on fabulous adventures.

There’s plenty of interaction with the audience and lots of singing. The songs were my daughter’s favourite part. She danced in her seat and waved around the little magic wand I bought her in the foyer before the show.

When the characters encouraged the audience to do a series of actions to another song, my toddler waved her arms around in delight. When Nanny Plum encouraged the audience to practice going “shhhh” my toddler loved joining in.

The actors wear big heads that are a brilliant likeness to the cartoon show and the set really brought the world of Ben and Holly to life. There are several changes of location as the show moves on. Our little one sat wide-eyed as puppets, smoke and moving set pieces brought one of her favourite cartoons to life.

I also thought the actors did really well at being expressive and engaging with the audience with just their arms and legs, as obviously we couldn’t see their faces under their masks.

The best thing about the show was seeing my toddler have such a fun time in a really safe and family-friendly environment. Even if my baby had erupted in tears, I wouldn’t have felt self-conscious.

The first half of the show ran for about 35 minutes before the interval and then there was another roughly 25 minutes after that. It was a perfect show duration for small children.

If you have little Ben and Holly fans at home I would say this is a great way to treat them this summer holiday.

For dates and information visit the Ben and Holly Live website.


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