BABE THE SHEEP PIG. Whirligig Theatre touring.
The book, the film and now the stage show, which looks like being as successful as its predecessors, judging by the response of the young audience at Birmingham's Hippodrome.
David Wood's adaptation of Dick King-Smith's story about a pig who learns to herd sheep and wins the Grand Challenge Trophy at the sheep-dog trials meets the needs of young children at many points: a strong storyline which moves at a smart pace, with exciting cliff-hangers en route; and a cast of colourful animal characters whose human traits can be easily recognised and their troubles and triumphs shared.
The children's involvement with the story was evident, from a deep listening silence in the theatre, punctuated by bursts of laughter, or exclamations of dismay at dramatic moments.
The characters are vividly brought to life in Susie Caulcutt's exciting costumes, in which head masks combine with fur, feather and fabrics of many textures and colours to create a farmyard's worth of animals. The illusion is further developed by Sheila Faulkener's attention to movement, which the actors use to excellent effect, notably the long, loping stride of Mary Ann Coburn's Fly the sheepdog, and the bottom-wriggling, trotter-tripping pig from Karen Briffett as Babe.
Whirligig tours Babe until May 25, visiting Manchester, Truro, Edinburgh, Belfast, Barnstable, Canterbury, Nottingham, Leeds, Bath, Northampton, Blackpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Dartford and Swansea