For as long as I can remember, the theatre has always been a huge part of my life. I’m a massive advocate for how beneficial being involved with the theatre can be for people of all ages and so it’s something I’m definitely keen to encourage for my both my children. Whether they grow up simply enjoying visiting the theatre and watching performances or whether they become more involved and on the stage themselves, I really hope it is a part of their lives the way it has been of mine. With that in mind, you can imagine how delighted I was when we were invited along to The NST City Studio to see their opening performance of Humbug! The Hedgehog Who Couldn’t Sleep. The production is aimed at 2-5 year olds but all the family is welcome so we all went along together, bringing Ernie (5 months old) along too.
NST City Studio
As I wrote about at length on this Instagram post, my first ever ‘job’ was a volunteer role at The Nuffield Theatre on the University campus so I know that venue very well, but I had never been to the new City Studio before. It opened in February 2018 and is a really fantastic location. The performance we saw was held in the small studio theatre upstairs but there is a big main stage too with some really fantastic upcoming events. After going to see Humbug! I’ve really rediscovered my love for the theatre and am keen to go back more often. I’ve already got my eye on a few shows I’d love to go and see in the New Year.
The studio was set out in a very relaxed fashion for this performance with cushions on the floor making up most of the audience seating, but there were also chairs for any adults that wanted them. We all sat together on the floor and I was very relieved not to have the stress of trying to get my two year old to stay in a chair for an hour. Ernie was also happy to lie on the floor too rather than being held solidly for that time.
The show is set in The New Forest and follows the story of Humbug, a hedgehog who is searching for a place to hibernate for the winter. She meets a host of weird and wonderful characters along the way who were all played fantastically by the other two cast members. There was the fox who is sassy and fabulous, the buzzing fly, the spider and the loyal mouse. Each of the characters were so engaging with the audience and Darcie (two and a half) was totally transfixed the whole time, laughing and reacting to the story line. I was obviously hoping she would enjoy herself but I never expected her to engage with it on the level that she did, at such a young age. There were also moments of humour in the show perfectly aimed at adults, that I’m sure went right over the kids’ heads, but that made it enjoyable on another level for us. There were moments of interaction too, such as when pom poms were handed out to the audience to throw as ‘nuts’ for the squirrels.
It was clear that there were elements of the show that were included for the purpose of educating the children which I thought was fantastic. Darcie would have learnt a lot from the experience anyway but to have the actors consciously teaching the audience words such as ‘hibernation’ was a really great added touch and I feel that Darcie really took a lot away from the experience.
I know a lot of people would be apprehensive about taking their young child to the theatre for the first time, I certainly was! This production is a great way to test the waters with them as it is so relaxed and also only 50 minutes long. It is so engaging but also not at all intimidating so even if your child can be a bit reserved in new situations they should still enjoy themselves. Darcie can find new environments and experiences overwhelming but she loved every second of the performance and was talking about it for the rest of the day.
Humbug! The Hedgehog Who Couldn’t Sleep is running at The NST City Studio in Southampton until Sunday 30th December and I really recommend taking your little ones along to it. You’ll be glad if you do!
You can find more information about the production here or browse the rest of the website to see other upcoming shows.