Monday 29 May 2017

The First Hippo On The Moon at Waterside Arts, Manchester

Waterside Arts Centre is host to a lovely intimate theatre, workspaces, studios and galleries. Literally 'waterside', alongside the canal in the heart of Sale it really is a lovely venue to visit with family. We were invited to an after-school 5pm performance of The First Hippo On The Moon.

Despite worries about traffic, we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy the artwork around the cafe. They have a huge list of drinks of offer - both alcoholic and not - as well as a few snacks.

The First Hippo On The Moon is based on the book for younger children (aged 3+) by David Walliams and was presented by Les Petits Theatre Company using puppetry. One costumed actor plays the lead and the supporting cast of 4 actors played all of the other animals.

Sheila The Hippo desperately wants to get to the moon before Hercules. She wants to be the first hippo on the moon and recruits a collection of the jungle animals to help her build her rocket and get there. I shant spoil the ending....

The puppets have been created by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell (War Horse, The Lorax) and are brilliant. The trees positioned on set and the grasses obscured the puppeteers, but they didn't try and pretend they weren't there. Everything flowed really well and naturally.

Here are a couple of the official photos, as obviously I couldn't photograph during the show. Credit The Other Richard.

At times size was used really well to portray distance and probably let the actor in the Hippo suit have a well-earned break. It's a pretty active play and they didn't show any signs of tiring, but it must get very hot in that suit.

My partner really loved it and the boys thought it was great (my youngest was in a 'pull daft faces' mood *sigh*). The book and play are accessible to children of 3+ and the play probably has more to offer the older audience members, who may feel they've grown out of the simplicity of the book. 

The seating at Waterside is really comfy and arranged in quite steep, but wide rows. It feels safe for children and everyone can see over the head in front!

Starting the play at 5pm worked really well for us. We were home by 7pm for a late tea and bedtime on time - a luxury you don't get with evening performances.

Everything we've seen at Waterside Arts has been incredibly professional, at a price that's affordable for families. Tickets to The First Hippo On The Moon cost £9-£11.

Waterside Arts have a full programme of theatre, film, exhibitions, comedy and other events, including shows for children of all ages. You can find out more on the Waterside Arts Centre Website.

We've previously written twice about Waterside Arts - The Aardman Animation Exhibit and the Christmas play 2106 - Underneath A Magical Moon.

Our entry was free for review.


  1. Oh wow this looks amazing. My son loves a wee theatre productions so this would be perfect. Wondering if they've be at the Edinburgh Festival this year?

    1. Oooh I don't know! You are lucky having that close by - I've always wanted to visit and never yet managed it!

  2. This looks fantastic. What a great place to visit x

    1. It's lovely. The artwork everywhere is awesome, and the theatre is a really nice size so that everyone can see perfectly, however little they are :)

  3. That looks awesome - so glad you guys had a good time! I don't envy the person in the hippo suit though, I expect the person felt a tad hot! Sim xx

    1. Hahaha I have no idea how she kept going all the way through, she didn't show any signs of flagging and it has to be hot in there! :D


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