The fast-moving tale of The Snail and the Whale at Rose Theatre Kingston (From This Is Local London)
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The fast-moving tale of The Snail and the Whale at Rose Theatre Kingston
The armed forces seem an unlikely source of inspiration for the stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler’s popular children’s book The Snail and the Whale.
But for Olivia Jacobs, joint artistic director of theatre company Tall Stories, the analogy was obvious.
“It was one of those shows we wanted to do for quite a long time,” says Olivia, who founded the company in 1997 with Toby Mitchell.
“But with a snail and a whale as your main characters it can be quite tricky with costumes.
“We decided to stage it once we made a link with a company called Storybook Soldiers.
“They help soldiers record bedtime stories for their children before they go away for a period of time, so they can still hear their parents voice.
“We read that The Snail and The Whale was one of the most requested stories to record, and realised there were so many parallels for a young child whose mother or father is away.”
The story is told through the eyes of a girl and her father
The Snail and the Whale tells the story of an intrepid mollusc who encounters a humpback whale, who embark on a journey around the world together. But when the whale beaches, his diminutive travel companion must come up with a way to save them both.
For Tall Stories’ adaptation, the story is retold by a young girl and her father, a sailor.
“We still tell the story of the snail and the whale,” says Olivia. “But seen through the eyes of a young girl who misses her father desperately and wants to go with him.”
It is Tall Stories fourth adaptation of a Julia Donaldson book, following the critically acclaimed The Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s Child and Room on a Broom.
“Julie tells good stories and that’s our aim too – to tell good stories and stage them well,” says Olivia.
“And she’s been really supportive, and allowed us to flesh out the stories.”
The play is an adaptation of Julia Donaldson's popular children's book
But Olivia admits to being nervous when Donaldson, the former Children’s Laureate, came to see the show debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year.
“The Snail and the Whale is her favourite book of her own,” says Olivia. “So we were nervous waiting for her backstage.
“Thankfully she said it was her favourite adaptation of ours.”
The Snail and the Whale; Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston
September 11-14, 1.30pm and 4.30pm
Visit website or call 08444 821 556.