While puppetry, mime and straightforward drama are familiar to most theatre goers, musical storytelling is an unusual format which requires a different response from the audience. So, when a talented foursome calling themselves The Little Wolf Gang show up with this beautiful adaptation of Peter and the Wolf by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, we don’t know at first whether to sit politely and enjoy the music or join in with the hand-clapping and catcalling. The boyishly charismatic storyteller Martin Maudsley cajoles us and eventually we respond, identifying the animals’ characters with instrument sounds and stomping our feet along to the bouncier bits.
Prokofiev created Peter and the Wolf specifically to enchant children and the bright yet haunting theme that represents Peter himself has lost none of its potency in spite of regular revisits over the decades by everyone from Walt Disney to David Bowie. Maudsley delicately explores every nuance and emotion in the dilemma faced by the cat, the bird and Peter as they’re threatened by the archetypal wolf, while the musicians each bring their own charm to the performance. Violinist Fiona Barrow is inspirational and cheeky, accordionist Edward Jay is dry as a long-abandoned wolf bone and “grandfather” bassoonist David Adams quietly absurd. This Peter and the Wolf is a delightful way of introducing children to live music and a lot of fun for the grown-ups, too. (Mike Gartside)