The Snail and the Whale

Written by MiriamSpall on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 22:10

By Esmee Hall

Tall Stories are renowned for their brilliant Julia Donaldson adaptations ‘The Gruffalo’ ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ and ‘Room on a Broom’ have all been huge successes, popular with both children and adults alike. So I was really pleased to be invited to watch the latest Tall Stories production to come to the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft ‘The Snail and the Whale’.

My children and I really enjoy Julia Donaldson stories and The Snail and the Whale is no exception. This particular Julia Donaldson’s book is one of my favourites because the poetry within the book is magical and we love Axel Scheffler’s beautiful illustrations. I was curious as to how they could adapt this short book to stage and what I saw went beyond my expectations

The Story

The Julia Donaldson book tells the story of a very ambitious snail whose goal in life is to sail around the world. The snail meets a friend, the big friendly humpback whale and they set sail finding lots of different adventures on the way. When the trip takes a turn for the worst the whale finds himself stranded on a beach. Can the little snail find a way to save her huge friend and will she see her own snail friends again?

The production ‘The Snail and the Whale’ took a very different format. This version of the story follows a father and daughter’s relationship, narrated by an older version of the daughter.  The story begins as we meet a very loving father and his playful daughter and his attempts to settle her at bedtime. From the very start of the story the audience were captivated by what was going on and the children in the audience were asked to help to hide the girl as she attempted to avoid her father at bedtime. My son particularly enjoyed suggesting a hiding place and then quickly told the father where she was.

The father eventually gets his daughter to sleep and leaves for sea. He later sends his daughter a cd with a recording of himself telling his daughter their favourite story, of ‘The Snail And The Whale’. The tale is told with the aid of an entire bedroom’s worth of set and props.

Even though the set was made up of some very simple and pieces, it was used surprisingly well.

It was wonderful to see tables, a bookcase and a chair transformed into a whale. It was clear to see that a great deal of imagination and creativity went into the use of all the key pieces placed on stage.

Music was used very well in the performance; the tale was accompanied throughout by a violin which was used very effectively. I found that the folk songs used really complimented the performance as the tunes were catchy and appealed to a young audience  The audience were encouraged to join in singing with the cast, ‘Shooting Stars, Crashing Waves’ which was very catchy.

The actors were very talented and I found that they all had great chemistry on stage which worked well with just the 3 actors. All the performers used their voices well to tell the story at certain parts during the show.

The young audience took great joy in joining in with the cast. There were plenty of opportunities to do so. My sons favourite funny moments had to be the water guns and calling out loudly ‘He/she’s behind you!’

Even though there’s much comedy and joy in the performance there is a strong message running throughout that life is too short and we as parents should make more time to play.

With entertainment and comedy throughout for both the children and parents alike, this production is perfect for all the family.

Useful Information

The Snail and the Whale is on at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft

27th September 2018

10:30 am and 1.30pm    

Running Time : 55 mins with no interval


  • Full Price: £12.55
  • Children: £11.00
  • Privilege Card Holders: £10.00
  • Schools and group rates £9.75

Recommended age 4+

In the foyer of the Theatre there are books, sticker books and finger puppets for sale.

Image of Alex and Miriam
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