Edinburgh Fringe 2017

David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon

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Genre: Children's Theatre, Puppetry

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

Hercules Waldorf Franklin the Third is a hippo who wishes to go to the moon. He has become rich and able now to turn the dream into a reality. The problem, but not for him, is that it was not his dream but Sheila’s, his classmate’s. Sheila is not a happy hippo and whilst Hercules builds his spaceship and trains for space travel in somewhere fancy, Sheila gets hers made out of wood and powered by poo in the jungle. They battle to get their first and then one gets left behind to claim to be the best hippo on the moon.


I have been instructed by my 9 year old assistant to highly recommend this. I have to say I was much in agreement with her. Children’s theatre can be a tough gig and with a fairly healthy crowd who make noises and refuse to abide by the traditional role of an audience – be seen and not heard – this can get quite raucous out in the stalls.

The cast though are well skilled in this art and through a really decent set, some fantastic puppetry, a zinging script that toes the line between enough filth for the kids and no filth but adult humour for those forced to come along it merrily takes us through this well regarded tale.

The music has more than a tinge of the familiar with more Disney about it than Bieber, and my 9 year old assistant was well versed in pointing out which Disney film she though they had styled each song upon.

The puppetry and costume was well done with the mix of big puppets and the TV screen work very well realised to give variety and something impressive to look at.

We were quite far back in the crowd and on occasions sight lines were a bit of an issue. Now I am aware that of all the venues to play, the Pleasance would be much sought after. I wonder if by so doing they have not considered that their paying public could have been a baying public as they have not got the view wished for.

With the majority of the audience though enthusiastically marking the winner of the hippo space race, clapping when needed and smiling when helping it was a great hour of a great story for the Sunday afternoon in which we saw it. It suggests that the audience were able to see as much as made them happy and it gave us two plenty of talking points for the road home.

As a piece of children’s theatre a Walliams story may be a very safe bet but this is one that does not forget it also has to meet its obligations as Walliams’ name shall guarantee that a number of summer fatigued parents may be depending upon it.


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